Women in Cannabis - The Importance of Accountability in Cannabis Business and Legalization
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Women in Cannabis event hosted by Coveteur and Limone Creative. It was a two-day event filled with insightful panels, cutting-edge products, and badass #bossbabes. I learned a ton and got to sample some amazing CBD-infused drinks and beauty products, but my biggest takeaway had to do with a panel on legalizing marijuana in New York.
The panel was called “Cannabis x New York State Politics: Is this Actually Going to Work?” It was moderated by Gia Morón of Women Grow, a company that connects and educates women in the cannabis industry. The speakers were Cristina Buccola, a Cannabis and Hemp Attorney, Mary Pryor of Cannaclusive, which aims to support diversity in the industry, Kassandra Prederique from the Drug Policy Alliance, and Emma Ketteringham, a public defender working with Bronx Defenders. These are the women leading the charge in cannabis legalization in New York and I was completely awe-struck. They work tirelessly, in different ways, especially to help those who are hurt most by the system (read: non-white folks). I urge you to delve a little deeper into each of them because they’re doing amazing things.
There were some interesting stats that came up, like about 27% of cannabis businesses are owned by women, making it the leading industry for women in business. However, only about 4% of cannabis businesses are owned by people of color. That’s due in large part because of how difficult it is to get the appropriate licenses to run a canna-business (you’re welcome for that port-manteau) and how racist the system continues to be.
Women really have the chance to shape and influence this industry and, as Kassandra Prederique from the Drug Policy Alliance pointed out, it’s crucial that women take this initiative to make a difference. She pointed out that the War on Drugs was declared, in large part, to keep white women safe, while women of color suffer because of it. Because of the high costs of medication, people with lower incomes have historically turned to drugs to treat their ailments and in turn gotten addicted to those drugs.
Did you know that many doctors will drug test women against their consent once they’ve given birth? Emma Ketteringham told us that if those tests come back positive for any drug, including marijuana, they report it to Child Services, who then in many cases immediately take the child away from their mother. The mother is then labeled as a “child abuser” and kept on that list for 28 years. African American women are 10 times more likely to get tested. They not only get their new-born baby taken away, but also have a harder time finding jobs afterwards. These children are put into the foster system and lose contact with their birth mother due to a broken system.
Kassandra Prederique really drove this message home when she said it’s up to women, specifically white women, to be a voice for those continuously put down by the system. White women have a louder voice in the cannabis industry and thus it’s up to them to be accountable for what goes on. White women must help shape the industry to ensure it’s inclusive of all people. With the industry just starting to bud (pun intended), the time is now to take it away from white men and put it into the hands of women and people of color who can truly get #highonsuccess.
Cover image via Coveteur