Marijuana is one fastest growing industry in the United States and also one of the youngest. Unlike more established industries, cannabis gives women a unique chance to create a culture of gender equality. Illinois Women in Cannabis is a non-profit dedicated to connecting and educating women in legal weed. Today, the group works to empower women to pursue executive positions in Illinois’ young cannabis industry that could soon include a recreational weed market.
Illinois’ Expanding Cannabis Program
Illinois’ medical cannabis program got off to a rocky start. The Prairie State legalized medical cannabis in 2013, but patients couldn’t buy weed until 2015. Since then, the Illinois Senate has voted to give people suffering from opioid addiction access to medical marijuana. Additionally, two-thirds of Cook County, which includes Chicago, came out in support of legalizing weed.
Unfortunately, legislators have been slow to act on weed legalization, both medical and recreational. However, if legalizing weed went to a vote, it would most likely pass. But whether or not Illinois legalizes weed largely depends on who wins the gubernatorial election this November. Incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner, who has said he will veto adult use weed legislation, is running against Democrat J.B. Pritzker.
Pritzker has been vocal about legalizing recreational weed in Illinois. He said that as governor, he would work to include minorities and those affected by the War on Drugs in the cannabis industry post-legalization. Legalization along with diversification initiatives would be a boon for Illinois women in cannabis, and the industry on the whole.
This Group Empowers Female Cannabis Entrepreneurs
Like almost all billion dollar industries, women are underrepresented in cannabis. Specifically, women hold a little over a quarter of all executive positions in legal weed. This figure is down from 36 percent in 2015.
But what might be depressing figures for some have galvanized women in cannabis. In 2014, Dina Rollman, who works for cannabis cultivator Green Thumb Industries, founded Illinois Women in Cannabis. This grassroots organization hosts networking events for women and men. The events provide educational opportunities for people to learn about Illinois’ medical program. They also have a job posting forum to help women find employment.
Connecting Women To Cannabis Jobs and Education
Cannabis doesn’t have the patriarchal roots characteristic of sectors like finance and tech. Instead, groups like Illinois Women in Cannabis and Oregon’s weed business accelerator for women find that there are myriad opportunities for women to forge cannabis careers. They only need the industry connections to seize them.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, cannabis retail and cultivation sales topped $86 million and $71 million, respectively. If Illinois elects a democratic pro-cannabis governor this fall, its already profitable legal weed industry would skyrocket. And established businesswomen in weed would reap the benefits.
Illinois Women in Cannabis’ next event will be their annual Fall Harvest Celebration. Join them in October to celebrate women in weed and the fall cannabis harvest.