Indulge me for a moment and take this easy, quick quiz: Read the statements below, and tell me what's missing.
"Brah, this weed is dank-o-rama."
"Hey man, you gotta try this sick ice hash."
"Dude, those dabs got me sooooo high."
Pencils down, please. If you answered "any female pronouns," you are correct.
They aren't just missing from this quiz; they're seemingly missing from the cannabis industry altogether. Oftentimes, when people think about women and weed, they simply... don't.
While there are some mid-profile women many stoners know (Mila Jansen, inventor of the "Ice-o-Lator" hash making machine; Gertrude Stein's partner Alice B. Toklas and her pot brownie recipe; Ms. Jill the seed breeder who developed the Jillybean strain), the majority of women who men associate with cannabis are clad in booty shorts and tiny tops—AKA dab girls, or Miss High Times, or any budtenders in schoolgirl attire.
This isn't meant to be a lesson in slut-shaming, but the women in the cannabis industry who typically receive the most attention fall into those types of categories. And yet my awesome canna-lawyer is a woman, as is the CEO of the CO2 Company. (Mad props to Amy Margolis and Karen Sprague.) So how does the fledgling legal industry avoid "marijuana misogyny" and grow in a way that supports women?
An excellent first step is Women Grow (womengrow.com). With chapters in 33 cities and growing, this for-profit entity, founded in Denver in 2014, has a mission statement to "connect, educate, inspire, and empower the next generation of cannabis industry leaders." They're accomplishing this with a series of monthly meetings to facilitate networking. It's not a groundbreaking concept in most industries, but it is a crucial one for canna-business when you consider how many decades those in the field have had to operate in near secrecy. When you have worked in the shadows for years, creating intricate cover stories about your life and career, the very concept of seeking out others and sharing information about yourself and your work is foreign at best.
Women Grow isn't women-only; about 30 percent of attendees are men. I recently went to a meeting and found it to be a pleasant change not to be in a room of predominantly white, male faces.
Sara Batterby, co-chair of Women Grow's Portland chapter, says the Portland group is "the most successful, fastest-growing, and largest, and has raised more money than any other chapter. I started Women Grow Portland because I was new to the cannabis industry and I wanted to network with women. My co-chair Leah Maurer and I have been so inspired by the enthusiasm and support that met our launch, and the incredible group of women who are coming together to make this the most professional and diverse group of cannabis entrepreneurs in the country.
"Our goal now is to foster leadership and support basic functions like helping people find jobs. As we mature as a group I think the possibilities for us to influence this industry are endless."
Visit womengrow.com for more info, or text WGPDX to 420420 to be notified of upcoming meetings and events.