Cannabis Business Accelerator For Women In Weed Opens In Oregon

Women hold fewer executive positions in the cannabis industry than they did 5 years ago. This new program hopes to change that.

Sam Gehrke/The Commune

Though some journalists will attempt to convince you otherwise, the number of female executives in weed is going down. While the cannabis industry is young, Amy Margolis, a lawyer from Oregon, is opening a cannabis accelerator and co-working space designed to help women grow thriving cannabis businesses. The Portland co-working space opened last week, and the accelerator will launch next month.

Cannabis Is Just Like Every Other Industry

Sam Gehrke/The Commune

Journalists and industry members have devoted a lot of time to hyping gender equality in legal weed. Yet the statistics tell a different story. According to a report from one marijuana data analyst, women only hold 26.9 percent of executive positions in the marijuana industry. This is marginally higher than the national average of 23 percent. For some, this is a high enough figure to differentiate the cannabis industry from others.

But women account for 47 percent of the workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Holding barely a quarter of executive positions is far from a sign that an industry has moved beyond gender inequality.

Furthermore, the percentage of female cannabis executives is dropping rapidly. From 2015 to 2017, it fell from 36 percent to the current 26.9 percent. A nine percent drop is stark, especially when considering that cannabis is our nation’s fastest growing industry. At this rate, legal weed will become a sector like any other: permanently dominated by men.

A Business Accelerator That Empowers Women In Weed

Sam Gehrke/The Commune

Portland, Oregon, a center of weed culture and innovation, was long due for a weed co-working space before the Commune opened its doors last week. The brand-new office, divided into conference rooms and larger areas, has rustic wood floors, big windows and exposed brick walls.

The business accelerator, called the Initiative, is a separate entity within the Commune. Through mentorships and networking opportunities, women in weed will acquire the marketing, financial and human resources skills they need to grow their preexisting businesses into national brands. The accelerator is tailored to help women build successful consumer product brands for the cannabis industry.

Founder Amy Margolis is determined to help women in weed launch their businesses nationwide, and understand success often depends on outside funding. Unfortunately, gender-bias is funding is prevalent across all industries. Margolis explained to Green Rush Daily, “In traditional financial venture capital, very little of that money flows to female-founded businesses. Cannabis is reflective of that struggle.”

The program will soon start accepting applications for the eight slots. As this is an accelerator, not an incubator, applicants must have post-revenue startups, meaning that they’re already generating sales. An enthusiastic plan for the future is also a plus. They will accept applications from people around the country, not just businesswomen based in Oregon.

Margolis and her team have a broad vision for remedying gender inequality. “Everyone is really enthusiastic and excited to see how large of an impact we can make,” she added.

Changing the Shape of Legal Weed

Sam Gehrke/The Commune

There are major challenges facing the legal marijuana industry, gender inequality being one of them. But cannabis accelerator programs like The Initiative and weed co-working spaces could evolve the game. Another co-working environment called Paragon Space opens in Los Angeles later this summer. Its innovation is having tenants use its own cryptocurrency to pay rent and buy things, like snacks from their snack bar.

Workspaces like these are playing an increasingly important role in how the cannabis industry deals with the obstacles it faces. Hopefully, cannabis can become an innovator in both technology and entrenched gender biases.

" Burgess Powell : Burgess Powell is a writer for Green Rush Daily based in New York. She writes about marijuana news, culture, and health.."