Search Results for: Diane Fornbacher

Seattle WA 11/6: MJBA Women’s Alliance Hosts Ladybud Publisher Diane Fornbacher

WASHINGTON:  MJBA Women’s Alliance and Eden Labs team up for an exclusive evening with Ladybud Magazine publisher Diane Fornbacher and dynamic personal and business finance expert Debbie Whitlock next month in Seattle for “The Power to Lead.”

Get inspired to lead the way with other major women leaders in the cannabis industry, including mistress of ceremonies Shawn DeNae Waggenseller of Washington Bud Company, legal pioneer, Anne Van Leynseele of NW MJ Law, and other fierce females to be announced soon.

The Power to Lead
Thursday, November 6th, 5:30pm-9pm
Bellevue Red Lion

Corporate Members and VIP ticket holders are invited to a special VIP Meet & Greet Reception preceding the main event in the Evergreen Room at 4:20pm.

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MJBA Women’s Alliance works collaboratively to enhance the growth and strength of our individual businesses and the collective development of the cannabis industry.

Mother’s High Tea With Cannabis Maven Susan Squibb

COLORADO:  Women are rewriting the social rules regarding marijuana use, and driving innovation in the emerging legal cannabis industry.  To celebrate and pay tribute to them, Denver-based 4 & 20 Blackbird Productions and organizers Cannabis Maven Susan Squibb and Christie Lunsford will play host to  the 3rd Biennial Mother’s High Tea, a networking event for women and mothers in cannabis.

MJNewsNetwork asked Susan Squibb about the event, and much more.

Q: What is Mother’s High Tea?

Mother’s High Tea is a tea party around Mother’s Day for the inspirational pioneering women and mothers of cannabis legalization and our fast growing community. It’s based in Denver, Colorado.  The first Mother’s High Tea, in 2011 began as a community event.   The original event inspiration was my mother who was active in the nonprofit community serving women and children’s needs. When she passed away from ovarian cancer, I created this event within my own community in homage to her positive influence and gather the busy cannabis business women together for an inspiring tea party around Mother’s Day.  The next Mother’s High Tea doubled as the launch of Women’s CannaBusiness Network, a project of National Cannabis Industry Association. This women’s group, 2 years later developed into Women Grow. Mother’s High Tea is a trailblazing cannabis event!

Q: Who will be speaking?

Cannabis business women, AC Braddock CEO of Washington based Eden Labs and Kristi Kelly, Principal of Good Meds Network in Metro Denver are speaking at this year’s event. Our keynote speaker is Republican Senator Beth Martinez Humenik from Adams County, Colorado. Diane Fornbacher, publisher of Ladybud Magazine will inspire with poetry and cannabis educator and consultant, Christie Lunsford, is sharing MC duties with me. It’s an exciting lineup of accomplished women, I’m eager to hear what Senator Humenik will say!

Q: Who should attend?

This event is for women and mothers in cannabis business and legal reform. It’s a networking event with a speaker program and event activities.   Mothers can bring their children, if they like. Due to compliance issues for public cannabis events, we have a limited capacity for minors, so children need to be preregistered to attend. Those arrangements can be made when tickets are purchased. Men are welcome to attend too!

Q: The event was produced by 4 & 20 Blackbirds Productions —your event production company — tell us about that.

Mother’s High Tea, as a non-consumption event, has been the only 4 & 20 Blackbirds event so far. I have plans to organize other cannabis events, more on the cultural side, but the laws in Denver are strict and not conducive to public events with allowed consumption. Here in the Denver area, people in marijuana “speakeasies” can get tickets for public consumption by police, and events have been cancelled or moved under pressure from officials. It’s unstable and still largely underground right now. The private use only aspect of the Colorado legalization law is not based on actual behavior. Cannabis culture is social and needs to also be legalized. Ideally, I want to be able to get a marijuana event permit, just like a permit is needed to sell alcohol at an event.

Q: You wear a lot of hats — Cannabis Maven, Operations Director of Steep Hill Labs, SAFER activist, event planner — how do you manage to balance it all? 

I don’t wear all my hats at the same time! But life can get hectic, juggling it all. Meditation is an important balance. I can do a lot because I am deeply motivated to make positive change for this plant. This is my inspiration for my legal reform work.  I feel really blessed to have many opportunities to describe and impact cannabis laws, expand the legal marketplace and increase consumer safety. I think of great ideas to manifest, look for good projects to work on, and support worthwhile businesses that add value to the scene and develop business and social infrastructure.

Q: The event is open to well-dressed men and well-behaved children…what is your thinking?

Yes, this is primarily a lady’s event. We don’t exclude men, especially men that recognize the importance of the event and want to lend support to the women of this community!  We do ask the men to dress nice! Cannabis business is usually a casually dressed environment, lots of t shirt and jeans. We want to everyone looking sharp for the ladies!  Mothers can bring their children the Mother’s High Tea. We design the event with kids in mind. We have a letter writing table for encouraging political engagement, a craft table to decorate teapot ornaments, tea time word searches, and a fun photo booth. Many cannabis businesses in Colorado are run by families. This public event is an opportunity for them to bring their children, or parents,  to a cannabis event that is appropriate and safe and stylish.

Q: Who are your sponsors?

We have over 35 business sponsors for the event representing a wide range of businesses within the cannabis industry. MJBA Women’s Alliance has been an enthusiastic sponsor of Mother’s High Tea and special thanks to our lunch, photo booth and platinum sponsors: Mary Medicinal’s, Julie’s Natural Edibles, MiNDFUL, Steep Hill, The Farm, Ideal 420 Soil, and Northern Lights Cannabis Co.

Here’s all the sponsors! Mary Medicinals, Julie’s Natural Edibles, MiNDFUL, Steep Hill, The Farm, Ideal 420 Soil, Northern Lights, McAllister Law Office, Dixie, Good Meds Network, Canyon Cultivation, Miller Soil, Live Green, CannaMart, Surna, MJ Freeway, Denver Relief, Lauren Davis Law, The ArcView Group, The Clinic,  Better Baked, Vicente/Sederberg, CMT Laboratories, Cloverleaf University, 420 Investor, SSDP and DPA, BMB Builders, 3D Cannabis Center,  The Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, Ladybud Magazine, Buds and Blossoms, Cannabis Camera, 4 & 20 Blackbirds, Women Grow, MJBA Women’s Alliance, Wildwood Apothecary, and Sara C’s it Social Media.

Q: Women Grow, MJBA Women’s Alliance, Ladybud, why do you think women in the cannabis have taken such a visible leadership role in shaping a post-prohibition world.  

Women have been involved in cannabis reform for a long time. The change in the laws has made it a more comfortable space for women to openly come forward as advocates for legal reform, and executives in cannabis business.  Also, women are important thought leaders for the future we are creating right now. We have a social norm we believe that moms look out for our safety and if mom says something is ok to do, then it’s safe and ok.  The opinions of moms and women will shape what appropriate social use is like in a society of legalized marijuana. Women play an important role in removing stigmas that surround marijuana.  Also, the needs of women consumers will have a big impact on market development, so businesses need to be forecasting for women consumers.

Q: Feel free to add anything else you feel would be relevant to MJ News Network readers.

Anyone who believes cannabis laws should change can have a big impact by simply talking about your support within your social circles. Fear of what others think or fear of being stereotyped as a lazy pothead, unfit mother whatever has stifled public conversations supporting legalization. These everyday conversations aren’t about personal consumption or someone wanting to get high. There are many convincing arguments for legalization- medical research and patient access, social justice issues and the racial disparity of prisoners serving time for nonviolent marijuana offenses, or the missed tax revenue for what currently is the biggest cash crop in the US. We can all contribute to the groundswell of support for legal reform by telling our neighbors and community members our support and in doing so, we reflect the normalcy of the people wanting legal reform in the US. There is a lot of work that still needs to happen, let’s use this current momentum to have a big impact on restoring this useful plant into modern life.

Pot Politics And The Power Of The Purse

Politics is the reflex of the business and industrial world.

Emma Goldman

By David Rheins

All of us working in the legal cannabis industry owe a great debt to the selfless sacrifice of the many political activists who came before us.  Generations have stood up, protested, gotten arrested and worse over these many decades in a struggle to end the federal prohibition of our beloved plant.  Without the efforts of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and the grassroots efforts of groups like Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and Seattle Hempfest, there would be no legal marijuana industry – medical or recreational – in this country, and certainly no Marijuana Business Association (MJBA).

Today, a second phase of the marijuana reform movement is beginning – one propelled by the massive economic and social power of the fastest growing industry in the country, and driven by a new crop of canna-business leaders who are knitting together the fabric of post-prohibition America faster than anyone could have predicted.

The power of the purse magnified by the resonance of digital and social media is normalizing once verboten cannabis use in America. Pot Smoking Presidents, epileptic children and marijuana moms have all contributed to the process. Yesterday’s radical has adopted new rules and morphed into today’s business pioneer. Reflecting this change, NORML has unveiled a business partnership program, Seattle Hempfest has added its own business summit to this year’s venerated music and free speech festival, and even right-wing business magazine Forbes has launched a pot blog.

Prohibition was always political. Pot smokers were – and in many places remain – outlaws.  Yippie! founder Abbie Hoffman once declared that “Every time I smoke pot it is a revolutionary act.”

It wasn’t until the 1990s that medical cannabis and patient’s rights began carrying the heavy water for the reform movement.  Compassion for dying AIDS patients drove the establishment of those first California MMJ regulations, and today children with seizure disorders and soldiers with PTSD continue to sway public opinion.  With nearly half of the United States having some form of medical marijuana law on the books and poll after poll showing the majority of us favor the legalization of cannabis for medical use, it is clear that some sort of national tipping point has been surpassed.  Just last week, a bi-partisan effort from Senators Cory Booker, Rand Paul and Kirsten Gillibrand to reschedule cannabis at the federal level was introduced to Congress.

Still, MMJ patients represent only a fraction of the Americans who use cannabis, and our prisons and unemployment ranks are filled to overflowing with the economic victims of the failed “War on Drugs,” a disproportionate number of whom are black and brown.

Capitalizing on pot’s refurbished image, voter initiatives in four states have made the production and sale of recreational marijuana legal, and several more including massive California and lucrative Nevada are poised to join them in 2016. It doesn’t take a weatherman to know that Federal Prohibition has blown its course.   With $700 million dollars in cannabis sales in Colorado in 2014; another $100 million in sales to date in Washington – a new chapter in American society is being written, and anyone answering the call to become a participant in the new legal cannabis industry is both a pioneer and a revolutionary.

While here in Washington, laws are being hammered out that seek to bring the state’s unregulated medical marijuana system and I-502 recreational marijuana industry together, a larger war for the hearts and minds of the public at large is being waged in the great marketplace of ideas.  Once our drug laws have been rewritten, the long process of the normalization of cannabis and cannabis users into the fabric of the culture and society begins. Each of us involved in the industry serves as an ambassador and a representative of this brave new world, and as such we must comport ourselves with the highest professional standards.

At the MJBA, we believe that through the establishment of a legitimate, profitable regulated industry – one that generates living-wage jobs, ample tax revenues and renewed economic activity – we can reintegrate disenfranchised citizens back into the mainstream workforce and reinvigorate our local communities.

The Marijuana Business Association serves its membership – licensed producers, processors, retailers and the many professional service companies who support them – by providing the digital and physical environments where our emerging business community can gather to share information, network and explore opportunity.  Members rely upon the MJBA for:

  • Business Intelligence – MJBA’s extensive network of targeted web sites, e-letters, publications and MJ Research programs keep track of a dynamic marketplace
  • Community and Networking  – MJBA monthly meetups and our many professional education seminars, Vendor Fairs and Job Fairs across Washington, Colorado and Oregon, bring together the industry’s leading players
  • Commercial Opportunity  – MJBA members rely on member referrals, lead generation and affinity programs to grow their businesses

The MJBA Women’s Alliance provides a unique platform for industry thought leaders to convene around issues particular to women in cannabis.  Past event speakers have included activists LEAP’s Diane Wattles Goldstein, Ladybud’s Diane Fornbacher, SSDP’s Betty Aldworth, Washington Bud Company’s Shawn DeNae and Cannabis Basics’ Ah Warner.  On March 25th, MJBA Women’s Alliance will host, “The Power of Politics” – an evening of insights on how Washington cannabis laws are changing, who’s changing them, and how you can influence the outcome to benefit your business.

These are exciting times. Scary, uncertain, fluid times.  I would encourage you all as you face these unprecedented pressures to remain positive and focused on working collectively to find solutions that work for all of the community.  As Martin Luther King, Jr once taught us: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Witnessing The Birth of An Industry: MJBA CEO David Rheins Looks Back At 2014

By David Rheins 

2014 has been an amazing year for those of us on the front lines of the legal cannabis movement. Thanks to the support of the now 300+ cannabis business members, dozens of sponsors and thousands of supporters, the b2b trade group I run, Marijuana Business Association (MJBA), has grown rapidly.  We’ve been busy during our first full year of operations helping our young industry lay the foundation for what will be one of  Washington State’s — and eventually the nation’s — major economic drivers.  Here are some of the year’s highlights:

Women of Weed

Women of Weed

As the industry grows, so do we: MJBA business groups now meetup regularly in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, and Spokane, WA. And in the first quarter of 2015, we’ll expand these networking events to support cannabis business communities in Denver, CO and Portland, OR.

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In the past year we’ve focused most of our energies helping to build Washington’s nascent legal cannabis business community. Focusing on our core values of providing reliable business intelligence, community and opportunity, MJBA organized two major b2b Vendor Fairs this year — both at Seattle’s Magical Butter Studios.  Our inaugural MJBA Vendor Fair in March 2014, came just as the first recreational marijuana licenses were being issued by the LCB.  That historic event, sponsored by leading edible company Evergreen Herbal, saw more than 300 businesses participate – with 25 sponsor/vendors.  Our second iteration,  MJBA Vendor Fair Summer, sponsored by Blue Line Protection Group, happened just days before the opening of Washington’s first legal pot shops and saw 20 vendors and 200 attendees who made crucial contacts and business deals.

Evergreen Herbal chief Marco Hoffman on stage at Vendor Fair.

Evergreen Herbal chief Marco Hoffman on stage at Vendor Fair.

MJBA_VendorFairPicsAnimation

In between those two events, we launched the MJBA Women’s Alliance with an elegant power luncheon at the Columbia Tower Club, featuring a keynote speech by LEAP’s Diane Wattles Goldstein, guest appearance by Cheryl Shuman. Ah Warner, Cannabis Basics founder, and creator of Women of Weed, was presented with a lifetime achievement award.

MJBA Women's Alliance Luncheon

MJBA Women’s Alliance Luncheon

Later in May also saw the debut of MJBA’s first Professional Education Seminar, “Canna Business and the Law.” Sponsored by Canna Law Group and emceed by CNBC’s Al Olson, the event featured VIP Keynotes by Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and WSLCB Member Chris Marr.

Seattle Attorney Pete Holmes was a keynote speaker at Canna Business & The Law

Seattle Attorney Pete Holmes was a keynote speaker at Canna Business & The Law.

MJBAProfessionalEducationSeminar

Pete Holmes and Chris Marr take questions

In June the MJBA moved into its HQ in Bothell, WA.  And to commemorate the occasion, we held an MJBA Women’s Alliance Held a picnic at the compound, with more than 70 cannabis ladies pitching in for “pot luck.”

In July, we launched the South Sound Tacoma MJBA meetup at Surge Tacoma. The first event was over-capacity and demonstrated that the need to support cannabis business was not just a Seattle phenomenon

Those getting into the marijuana industry today are getting a leg up on the growing wave of competition. The New York Times recently covered the industry that is now receiving financial backing from several networks of investors that are ready to plunge millions into the industry.

South Sound supports a robust MJBA community

For 4 days in August, MJBA was a VIP Sponsor of Cannacon V1.0 at the Tacoma Dome. Our MJNewsNetwork and Marijuana Channel One on YouTube covered the event extensively.  Canna personality Radical Russ Belville interviewed key MJBA business members for his 420 Radio Network.

LCB's Randy Simmons and David Rheins at CannaCon

LCB’s Randy Simmons and David Rheins at CannaCon

In August, MJBA also hosted a benefit for NORML at its Bothell HQ.  The event was sponsored by Blue Line Protection Group, O.pen Vape, Evergreen Herbal and Washington Bud Company.  NORML founder Keith Stroup, travel author Rick Steves, cannabis celebrity Cheryl Shuman, Washington NORML founder Kevin Oliver and High Times Editor Rick Cusick were all in attendance.  The event raised $1500 for NORML.

NORML's Keith Stroup, David Rheins and Kevin Oliver

NORML’s Keith Stroup, David Rheins and Kevin Oliver

In August, MJBA Women’s Alliance sponsored a benefit for the Pink Gene Foundation at Suite at the Hyatt in Bellevue.  $1000 was raised via a silent auction of donated wares from MJBA’s generous business members and sponsors.
PinkGene

Washington Bud Co's Shawn DeNae and attorney Stephanie Boehl

Washington Bud Co’s Shawn DeNae and attorney Stephanie Boehl

We held our first ever MJ Research listening summit in August, which informed our second MJBA Professional Education Seminar, “Technology & Your Cannabis Business”  held at the Motif Hotel in Seattle. Sponsored by CIPS, the event featured keynote presentation by Jamen Shively and ICCCO, and featured five all-star expert panels.

Ben Livingston Emceed MJBA's Technology & Your Cannabis Business Seminar

Ben Livingston Emceed MJBA’s Technology & Your Cannabis Business Seminar

MJBA at CannaCon 2014

MJBA’s David Rheins being interviewed at CannaCon 2014

In September, MJBA launched the Vancouver Meetup. The Mayor of Vancouver proclaimed the day “Cannabis Hemp Awareness & Marijuana Safe Usage Day” – Viridian Sciences was host, and Congressional candidate Bob Dingethal spoke to the group.  And we’d like to thank Danille Ulvila with Life Gro for hosting our most recent Tacoma Meetup at her impressive Life Gro facility.

Viridian Sciences hosted MJBA Vancouver's first meetup

Viridian Sciences hosted MJBA Vancouver’s first meetup

 

MJBA held its monthly Seattle meetups at Magial Butter Studios in SODO

MJBA held its monthly Seattle meetups at Magical Butter Studios in SODO

In September, MJBA launched MJBA Job Fair, a historic gathering of Washington Cannabis Industry’s employers and job seekers. Presented by Weedhire.com, and sponsored by Viridian Sciences, Eden Labs and Blue Line Protection Group, the event attracted more than 400 attendees, with 30 employer sponsors and more than 140 job openings.  We even hosted a “Marijuana Is Safer Than Unemployment” Fashion Show!

 

Job Fair Seattle was a huge success

Job Fair Seattle was a huge success

Eden Labs' CEO AC Braddock on the runway at the MJBA Jobs Fair in Seattle.

Eden Labs’ CEO AC Braddock on the runway at the MJBA Jobs Fair in Seattle.

In November, the Women’s Alliance hosted “The Power To Lead,” a day of inspiration, information and celebration, featuring Ladybud publisher Diane Fornbacher and financial guru Debbie Whitlock.

Ladybud Publisher Diane Fornbacher keynoted "The Power to Lead"

Ladybud Publisher Diane Fornbacher keynoted “The Power to Lead”

A couple of days later in November, MJBA Research published its first market research report, and held its third Professional Education Seminar:  “Dollars & Sense: Risk & Financial Planning for your Cannabis Business.” Sponsored by RMMC Consulting, the daylong event included a robust vendor area, and a daylong series of panels, including an hourlong Q&A with LCB Deputy Director Randy Simmons. 7 expert panel focused on actionable advice for the more than 200 I-502 licensees and applicants on their major areas of concern: financing and money management; insurance and risk; security, distribution and transportation; merchant service; business intelligence. MJ Freeway sponsored the 4:20 happy hour.

 

Dollars and Sense of Risk & Financial of Your Cannabis Business

Dollars and Sense of Risk & Financial of Your Cannabis Business

Just under 500 job seekers networked for opportunities to work in WA's legal marijuana industry.

500 job seekers came to MJBA Job Fair Seattle

In December 2014, the Company held its first annual “Cannabis Xmas Bazaar: Hot Pot Products for the High Holidays,” an historic showcasing of marijuana-themed products and innovations with participation by over 20 independent vendors and 150 members.   And, to top it all off, we were honored to be nominated as “Best Cannabis Association of 2014” in the Dope Industry Awards.  All in all, I’d say it was a fantastic first year in the life of a Green Rush startup.

Can’t wait to share what next year brings.  Hope you’ll stay tuned.  In the meantime, here’s wishing everyone a safe, happy, hempy holiday season.

The Cannabis Elders at the Dope Industry Awards

The Cannabis Elders at the Dope Industry Awards

 

Leafly sponsored Sativa Santa at MJBA Cannabis Xmas Bazaar

Leafly sponsored Sativa Santa at MJBA Cannabis Xmas Bazaar

Farmer Tom "Sativa Santa" and Seattle Hempfest's Vivian McPeak

Farmer Tom “Sativa Santa” and Seattle Hempfest’s Vivian McPeak

Michael Stusser and Higher Ground TV captured this year's Hot Pot Products

Michael Stusser and Higher Ground TV captured this year’s Hot Pot Products

MJBA Women’s Alliance “Power To Lead”: Powerful Women Leading By Example

By TwiceBakedinWA

WASHINGTON:  This past week I attended ‘The Power To Lead’ hosted by the MJBA Women’s Alliance at the Red Lion in Bellevue, WA.  This was my first MJBA Woman’s Alliance event that I have been able to make and I was not disappointed.

After being warmly welcomed by Morgan, MJBA’s leading woman, the owner of Washington Bud Company, Shawn Denae, got on stage as the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies.  We were graced with Shawn’s vibrant energy that took us on a journey through her personal stories of being in the cannabis industry while showering us with tidbits of inspiration and wisdom. She began by giving us an invaluable networking tip for the evening: “Be present with the people you are with and be curious about each other.”  At that point we all turned our mobile devices off and fully came into the room.

Next to speak was AC Braddock, CEO of Eden Labs.  I love being around this woman. As she stood on stage explaining that her company has grown by 400% she also authentically expressed how stressful it is to be the leader of a business that is growing so rapidly and how vital it is to lead with calmness. While this real live yogi stood there with beauty and grace, she told the room “You don’t know what you are capable of until you do it. So, do something- lead, follow, or get out of the way.” She also brought attention to the instant calm that she experienced when she entered the room that night regardless of the very stressful day she’d had.  I know the calm she is referring to. It’s like plugging yourself in for a recharge by just showing up and being present with a room of powerful, confident women who are leaders in their lives. Most women I talked to that night also told me that they had had a very challenging day and week but this night was exactly what they needed.

Shawn Denae came back on stage and said something that hit it all home: “Leadership is sweeping the floors when the floors need to be swept. It is vital to lead by example.” That simple concept felt like the common thread from everybody who spoke.

When Giana Lampreda of WAM Oil got on stage she gave her experience in the cannabis industry that many in the room could relate to…being surrounded by mostly men all day long and having to play a leadership role among men. Her advice was invaluable: “Let go of your ego to understand the insecurities of the people you are working with and you’ll discover a new way of doing things.” From a woman who has fought cancer with cannabis and daily is helping others fight for healthy lives, I couldn’t help but sit there in awe of how thankful I was to have known her power and for every single hug I have ever received from her.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lj3gfY007iM?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent]

After a ten minute break Diane Fornbacher, the publisher of Ladybud magazine, got on stage. Now, she is the reason I had been excited to be there in the first place. I’ve been a fan of her magazine, Ladybud, and the way that her eloquent use of words even just on social media sparks my imagination. At that point I couldn’t focus on taking pictures or anything else but absorbing every morsel she was about to spit out.

“Cannabis is the gateway to revealing ourselves to one another and the world.”

“The living death of a poet is not being able to express yourself.”

“What are we doing with our time as this person?”

“Who would I be if I gave up? Fuck That. “

It was a wonderful thing to meet her and to see into her eyes. What a beautiful soul.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYuBuDyW9CI?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent]

Next, Anne VanLaneSeal of NWMJ Law for the cannabis industry got on stage and reminded us to be passionate and deliberate on how we conduct ourselves in business. She also reminded us to lead by example and realize how important what we are doing is in this country right now. “Have big dreams and do not fear the challenges.” Thank you for saying those words. 

Last, but not least was Debbi Whitlock. This beautiful woman of sunshine got on stage and shared her heartwarming experience with cannabis topicals. She reminded us that our health is our capital and to care for ourselves.

At one point she asked the room to raise their hands if they feel like they had found their calling. Looking around the room almost every single hand was up in the air…including mine. It was a powerful moment worth pausing for. “Don’t stop before the magic happens.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcz3IFzRLgs?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent]

I’ve been in a lot of rooms with only women in them. While most women will be nurturing, welcoming, and loving toward each other this group was different. These are a different breed of women, if you will. They know what they want, they know how to stand in their power, and they are confident in what they do regardless of the challenges that come with speaking up for what you believe in.

To be surrounded by that energy is invaluable. Thank you MJBA Women’s Alliance for providing a space for me to be inspired by others of my breed.

-TwiceBakedinWA

The Heart of Leadership: Why Women + Pot = Power

By Blair Lyonev

What would an industry led by women look like? The MJBA Women’s Alliance dares to ask.

Tattooed, buttoned-up, pencil-skirted, dreadlocked, twenty-something-to-seventy-something, wide-eyed, canny, high-octane, high-test, high-heeled, serene, essentially-oiled, blown out, crunchy, sleek, seasoned, demure, loud-mouthed, smart-assed, mothering, laughing, crying, drinking, pot-friendly women.

These are the women who assembled in a hotel conference room in the well-to-do Seattle ‘burb of Bellevue for the Marijuana Business Association’s (MJBA) Women’s Alliance gathering. They came to network and hear from guest speakers Diane Fornbacher – activist, writer and owner of the online magazine Ladybud, and Debbie Whitlock, an entrepreneur and financial coach who specializes in improving cash-flow for women-owned businesses. They, and other MJ luminaries, all spoke on the night’s theme, “The Power to Lead.”

The meeting came just two days after Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C voted to approve sweeping pro-pot initiatives. Shawn DeNae, founder of the Washington Bud Company, and the event’s Mistress of Ceremonies, opened with a meta-note on the evening’s agenda:

“We are pioneers. For the first time in history we are poised to lead an entire industry – and we are doing it with guts, tenacity and tears.”

Her statement summed up the flavor – and fervor – of the palpable collective desire in the room: to claim and capitalize on a brand new industry with a fresh, uniquely feminine brand of leadership.

Pot Potentials

Helmed by Morgan, the MJBA Women’s Alliance is a trade organization that hosts networking events to “support, educate, and connect” women trying to gain a foothold in the cannabis industry.

As a whole, the fledgling pot industry has had a galvanizing effect on the country: thousands are quitting their jobs and moving to newly legal states, pouring their savings into start-up ‘canna-businesses,’ risking potential jail time, wading through the nitty-gritty of intractable state laws, and riding out moratoriums, hoping that – once though the legislative mire – they will strike green gold.

Besides the allure it holds as a potential economic boon, the nascent MJ industry also represents a kind of hinterland for the enterprising ‘ganga-preneur,’ a place where personal values and ambition might blend to create a more whole, expansive, and human business model. Conversations around legalization inevitably reflect on this as a “historic moment,” one that invites – or even demands – a new ethos in the business sphere.

Guest speaker Debbie Whitlock invoked several pivotal points in female-led activism: the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 for women’s suffrage, the first meeting of the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955 for lesbian civil rights, and the inaugural publishing of Ms. Magazine in 1971. She then asked the crowd, “Who here is ready to add your name to that list?”

The cannabis plant, its subtle, once-maligned capacities now in the process of being integrated into the public moral imagination, has become a metaphor of a greater cultural trend towards ‘authentic entrepreneurship’ by women – aka: using one’s natural gifts and powers to make an honest buck.

“Our lives dictate that we must get out of our comfort zones to evolve the species,” noted Diane Fornbacher in her talk. “And the cannabis movement is an excellent vehicle for that.”

As such, women are recognizing the ‘Green Rush’ as not only ripe for profit, but as a new and malleable industry that could be infused with more ‘feminine’ values of cooperation, sustainability, and inclusivity.

“The invitation for women in the cannabis industry is to come together,” Whitlock remarked. “Collaboration is key. There is no reward for soldiering on by yourself.”

Alliance member Aubrey Armes, a Seattle-based Life Coach and Human Resources professional, noted that in most business settings there is “A fear of being totally transparent. It is perceived as a weakness. But in my experience transparency can invest you with a kind of power.

“Inclusivity is simply the capacity to hold space for everyone. You’re allowing for people’s humanity – which means you’re also allowing for their greatness.”

Why Going ‘Small’ Means Big-Picture Gains

Fortune magazine recently revealed that, despite the fact that there are more women CEOs in big Fortune 500 companies now than at any other point in history, women still hold only 5.2 % of the their total number.

However, a report by The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute, states that women are creating small businesses and new jobs at a rate that surpasses their male counterparts and greatly exceeds their current contribution to U.S. employment. The study forecasts that female-owned small businesses, currently comprising 16% of total U.S. employment, will generate 5 million new jobs in the United States by 2018 – a full third of the 15.3 million new jobs projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Also of note – they are achieving these numbers in large part without the more top-down, paternalistic style long practiced by the male-dominant business establishment. The evening’s first speaker, AC Braddock, CEO of Eden Labs, revealed that her company has grown 400 % in the last year – and has done so with a completely lateral structure.

“There is no hierarchy. Everyone works in teams. Sometimes it’s hard to get people to speak up. But I tell them, ‘I need to hear what you have to say.’”

One attendee, a consultant for a management software company that caters to the cannabis industry, reflected on how women bring invaluable assets to start ups that want to go the distance:

“Women are going to be listeners. We’re leading with passion and empathy, and that makes any business foundation stronger. When people feel protected they offer better ideas and there is more creativity. You can take more risks and the company as a whole evolves faster.”

In fact, these more sentient and relational attributes might provide the first inspiration – and push – to get a business off the ground.

Prior to the founding of Ladybud, Diane Fornbacher worked as a journalist but discovered that her values weren’t necessarily reflected in the publications she wrote for.

“I’m an artist, a feeler, a crier, a spiritual person. That’s where I’m coming from,” she said. “I didn’t see a lot of art, or testimonials in these magazines. There were no families represented, no in-depth journalism. And I was tired of filtering my ideas through other people.”

So she did her own thing. The result? A top ranked women’s lifestyle publication that covers all things cannabis – law, business, food, fashion, wellness – and family.

 

Leadership, Found.

 

Some of the hurdles for women taking leadership roles in the cannabis – or any other industry – are internal. For decades women have witnessed and absorbed negative associations with holding power. Because of this, a woman might perceive total ownership and power as being potentially harmful, something that would cause them to neglect or abuse the people they love, to be abandoned should they eclipse their male partner, or be attacked as selfish or domineering – and therefore inherently lacking in ‘femininity.’ As a result, part of their psyche might resist claiming leadership.

“There has been a shift in how we perceive power,” says Debbie Whitlock. “The old male-dominated culture was about ‘power over.’ But for women, we don’t want ‘power over,’ we want ‘power to.’ Power to serve, to create, to move forward, to stay in or leave relationships.

“In all the years I’ve been a financial advisor, I would ask women why they weren’t leaving unhealthy relationships, and they would say, ‘I can’t afford to leave.’ Money made them feel like they were being held hostage. So it’s necessary for other women to stand up and say – it’s ok to have that kind of power, and we need to provide models for it.”

Diane Fornbacher spoke of how her early childhood experiences in an abusive home where she was “Told to be quiet, to not cry and not explain myself,” mirrored her experiences in the adult professional world. But it was these very experiences that provided the impetus for her to become an advocate and leader – someone who now seems hard-wired to kick up a stew.

“We are the redeemers; we’re giving birth to a new industry – reaffirming that we’re here for a reason,” she says. “I didn’t know I was a leader. I just knew that I was pissed off and needed to do something.”

It is this quality of resiliency that many of the women present at the event spoke of as most salient in women’s leadership – as inherently feminine.

“We are excellent problem solvers,” said one attendee, “And start-ups are nothing but problem solving. There’s so much tactical skill in launching, branding, and making a business successful.”

While the more receptive capacities to listen, to connect, to create space for other people’s gifts, to support body, environment, and family-friendly systems in a professional setting are important, it is their resourcefulness, tenacity, and ability to spot opportunity, to follow their instincts and vision – sometimes past prudence – that is the key to women’s success.

“Women are incredibly persistent,” says Whitlock. “We’re crafty. We find ways to keep things moving forward. And when things are going sideways, the bat signal goes up, and the community descends on us with pints of ice cream and glasses of wine! It’s a survival instinct. The cannabis industry is igniting a particular capacity in us. I’m overwhelmed by the passion I’ve seen.”

On the whole, the women offered a horizontal and profoundly engaged vision of leadership for the budding cannabis industry. They are standing on a threshold, a borderland between memory and imagination that could shape its direction and provide a template for other industries.

“What does leadership mean to me?” asked Diane Fornbacher in the conclusion of her talk. “It means agony. It means beauty. It means I fail but I know I tried. It means I’m not making a million bucks. But I can sleep at night.”

 

 

 

 

Cannabis Mom: 8 Things You’re Getting Wrong About Parents Who Use Pot

COLORADO:  It is now legal to buy marijuana for recreational use both in Colorado, and as of this week, Washington State. Diane Fornbacher, a long-time cannabis activist and mom of two boys, 11 and 5, would like to clear up some common misconceptions about parenting and using pot. 

1. No, I don’t deal weed out of my house.
I live in Colorado, where I can safely and legally purchase cannabis as a responsible, tax-paying citizen in a safe environment at a licensed facility that has a security team, checks my identification to see if I am an adult, and tests their cannabis for quality, molds and pesticides. The taxes from my purchases go to our state’s schools to improve education. That makes me a happy, conscientious customer.

2. No, I won’t sell you weed at school when we’re picking up our kids.
Some joker saw me on the news and thought it was amusing to ask me, loudly, the next day at the elementary school during pickup, if he could get some marijuana. Not funny. While some activists are parents who have dispensaries and do sell it legally, I am not one of them and I most certainly would not even think about doing that at a school. Time and place, buddy.

 

Pot-Smoking Moms Tired Of Being Judged By Wine Drinkers

Every night, Margaret’s two boys fly into the house after sports practice and flip on the TV, while she races to the kitchen to get dinner cooking. “It’s that tedious witching hour when I feel incredibly frazzled,” says the Tennessee singer/songwriter mom of a 6- and an 8-year-old. But instead of pouring herself a glass or two of merlot, she heads to the standalone garage next to their house for a few puffs of Humboldt Kush, one of the four strains of pot she smokes seven days a week. [Read more…]