Meet the Colorado "Women in Weed" Who Could Dominate Billion Dollar Pot Biz

Back in March, our Thomas Mitchell reported about the rise of groups such as the Marijuana Business Association Women's Alliance, Women Grow and the NORML Women's Alliance.

A number of Mitchell's interview subjects expressed their hope that the marijuana industry will set a new standard for gender equality.

Six months later, this prospect is getting not just national but international play via an article in the Irish Examiner headlined, "The women in weed who could make legal marijuana a billion-dollar industry."

Unsurprisingly, several of them are from Colorado.

The Examiner's Gog Lidz begins her piece like so:
It seems fitting that a plant called Mary Jane could smash the patriarchy. After all, only female marijuana flowers produce cannabinoids like the potent THC chemical that gets users buzzed. Pot farmers strive to keep all their crops female through flowering female clones of one plant, called the Mother. And women are moving into the pot business so quickly that they could make it the first billion-dollar industry that isn’t dominated by men.
Coloradans aren't the only ganjapreneurs and industry types cited by Lidz. Folks from California, Nevada and a number of other states are also highlighted.

But there are plenty of Mile High reps, including Olivia Mannix and Jennifer DeFalco of Cannabrands, a marijuana-centric marketing agency that's managed to survive and flourish in the wake of a 2014 kerfuffle over the comment "weeding out the stoners," which found its way into the New York Times.

Next up is Maureen McNamara, who we featured in a November 2014 post about "making marijuana edibles safely." Here's the description of her offered by Lidz:
Maureen McNamara is starting a statewide certification programme in Denver for people in the pot business. Many marijuana edible chefs take her food safety classes and her Sell Smart programme is popular among marijuana retailers. She has been working directly with Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, and her curriculum is awaiting approval to become the first certified responsible vendor programme, much like those in the bar and alcohol business.
McNamara is followed by CannLabs' Genifer Murray, first interviewed by Westword back in 2011.

“In a typical science, like environmental or medical, it would take them twenty to thirty years to become something,” she tells Lidz. “We’re in the infancy. My scientists are going to be cannabis experts — some already are.” In her view, women are a great fit for the cannabis biz, whose features tend to attract them. “This is a compassionate industry, for the most part, especially if you’re dealing with the medical side. The medical patients need time and consideration, and women are usually the better gender for that.”

And then there's attorney Rachel Gillette, who's regularly appeared in this space. Back in June, for instance, she weighed in on the court ruling against Brandon Coats, a medical marijuana patient whose firing by DISH was upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court; she's the executive director for the Colorado branch of NORML.

Another excerpt from the Examiner piece offers this about Gillette:
She recently sued the US Internal Revenue Service — and won — on behalf of a client who was denied an abatement of a 10 percent penalty for paying his taxes in cash. But cash was the only option: Because of federal law, marijuana enterprises deal only in cash, as banks shun them.

“It’s a difficult situation for many marijuana businesses, with regard to banking,” says Gillette. “Most banks do not take marijuana business accounts, even in states where it is legal. They can’t afford the compliance cost. It’s too risky.” 
Of course, these women are only a few of those in Colorado who are making their mark in marijuana. And their numbers will continue to grow.

To read the complete Examiner piece, click here.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts