By Maishah Asante-English
Women are increasingly closing the gender gap in the swiftly flourishing medical cannabis industry and here’s why.
Many are finding their path to the industry through policy work, marketing, cultivation or for medical reasons. As the business of medical marijuana continues to expand, the number of positions held by women can be expected to reflect this.
According to a survey conducted by Marijuana Business Daily, women are well-represented in various areas of the medical cannabis trade. Ladies hold 63 percent of high-level posts and 48 percent of senior jobs in process and product manufacturing.
They all share a common interest in shedding the stigma of medical cannabis use and are working in a number of positions to make that happen.
Megan Carr serves as Head of Market for SWC Tempe and SWC Prescott, state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries located in Arizona. Her main challenge is keeping up with the growing demand for more product.
Carr said her “love for the healing power of the plant in its natural form” guided her interest in working with medical marijuana.
“It is such a fast-paced environment. The best part of my job is increasing the quality of life for all those involved, from seed to sale, to medicating,” she said.
Nikki McComack works as the cure and packaging manager at SWC Tempe, an Arizona dispensary and said the best part of her job is helping patients. She said she has not experienced any personal challenges in a position generally held by men.
“Like any job, you have the challenge of proving yourself,” she said. “I have personally seen this medicine help so many. I came to the industry to try and help educate people with the benefits of this wonderful medicine.”
Working directly with patients at Capital City Care has helped Carrie Candaffio reach her goal to help others address medical issues and improve their quality of life.
“There are so many options in medical marijuana. It’s a process for some people to find exactly what they need, and I’m the one that should be able to guide them to relief.”
Jobs in the industry are not limited to dispensary positions, or even jobs requiring direct contact with medical cannabis. There is also a surge in marketing, consulting and social media management positions.
“I spend most of my time behind a computer,” said Beth Marchand, Director of Marketing and Promotions for Columbia Care. “I came from outside of the medical marijuana and health care industry, so there was a fast learning curve on the ins-and-outs of our product and patient needs. I get a lot of satisfaction from our work and improving the lives of our patients.”
The growing trend of industry-related groups has also been on the rise.
In 2014, Women Grow, a professional marijuana women’s networking group, was established with a group of 70 female professionals. The group has grown to more than 1,000 women across the country with 30 chapters.
Mia Di Stefano manages social media for HealthMJ, an organization which advocates for and educates cancer patients about the benefits of medical cannabis. Through HealthMJ, she became involved with the New York City chapter of Women Grow, where she manages sponsors and partnership for networking events.
“I helped care for my father who had multiple myeloma (a type of blood cell cancer) until he died in 2003, and it was clear to me that cannabis could have treated many of the resulting ailments – severe joint pain, nausea, feeding tubes, acute depression or a least greatly reduced the amount of pills he was on.”
I’m grateful to have found a company whose mission is so meaningful to me. We are here to help patients navigate what medical marijuana means for them!”