The Wink In Weed: Evolving To Better Serve The Marijuana Marketplace

By David Rheins

Businesses are living organisms that follow a natural lifecycle. From conception as an idea in the mind of the entrepreneur, through each phase of development, the rough edges of each business are honed, shaped and sharpened by market realities. We learn and evolve as we grow: adding employees, encountering and overcoming competitive challenges, exploring opportunities, and servicing our customers. The marketplace is unambiguous about what it wants — voting with money and mindshare – and in that way influences the trajectory of every business participant.

The idea for the creation of the Marijuana Business Association came back in early 2012, before recreational marijuana was legal in either Washington or Colorado. We saw that there was a tremendous support for creating a legitimate cannabis industry among would-be licensees and consumers, but practically no institutional support or infrastructure to help them.  We built our core services in direct response to the common needs and concerns voiced from the literally hundreds of activists, dispensaries, growers, topical-makers, and entrepreneurs we spoke with as we were refining our business plan.

Blue Line Protection Group Inc. said it's opening a new 12,000-square-foot facility in Denver that will be able to house its armored vehicles, count companies' cash, and store cash in vaults. It's scheduled to open in the first quarter of next year, the company said.

Getting and staying informed is one of the biggest challenges for our business members — licensed growers, processors and retailers, and the many ancillary business professionals who support them.  State regulations are dynamic, and ever-changing. Most first generation cannabis businesses are ill-informed, and under resourced.  They have an ongoing need for reliable information about getting licensed and staying compliant, and the technical challenges of their new profession as a grower, or processor or retailer.

The Marijuana Business Association was created to provide participants in the newly legal cannabis industry with three core values: Reliable Business Intelligence, Professional Community and Commercial Opportunity.   Three years ago, MJBA began publishing MJHeadlineNews on Facebook as a social forum for aggregating the day’s most important cannabis news from both the mainstream media and the pot press.  The site immediately generated tremendous response, and attracting a national audience. Today the MJHeadlineNews page boasts 160,000 Likes with robust community engagement.

"Forcing businessmen and businesswomen who are operating legally under Oregon state law to shuttle around gym bags full of cash is an invitation to crime and malfeasance," said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. "It's time to let banks serve these legal businesses without fearing devastating reprisals from the federal government."

Increasingly we’ve seen the mission of our MJNewsNetwork.com as not only disseminating the news from other sources, but also the creation of our own original content.  We’ve now published hundreds of original videos from MJBA events and other industry happenings on our Marijuana Channel One on YouTube. And are in the process of building out our suite of web sites, professional educational programming and publications to deliver even more value.

MJBA Meetups have become a reliable monthly occasion where cannabis professionals can share news, and engage in professional networking in an ideal environment for establishing one’s professional and personal brands. We’ve grown, from monthly meetings in Seattle, to supporting regular MJBA meetups in Spokane, Bellingham, Tacoma, Portland, Denver and New York. Thousands of industry professionals have attended our job fairs, vendor fairs and professional education seminars, and tens of thousands more have watched the 300 original videos we’ve captured from MJBA and other cannabis industry trade events.

As the needs of the marketplace have evolved over the past three years, MJBA has evolved our offerings to map to the changing needs of our membership – partnering with leading business intelligence firm TetraTrak/Front Runner to host Professional Education Seminars for producers, processors and retailers, and hosting business boot camps with NWMJ Law that provide members with access to leading attorneys, CPAs and other business experts.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8rOgEvxQ2Y&w=560&h=315]

Two years ago, we launched the MJBA Women’s Alliance to provide a forum for cannabis businesswomen to build their personal and professional lives.  More than 100 women-owned or operated cannabis businesses have joined in the MJBA Women’s Alliance, participating in our many a Seminars, VIP Speaker Luncheons and Charitable Events. This Spring we decided that the Women’s Alliance had achieved enough scale and momentum to sustain it, and so we have spun it off as a separate new entity: The Cannabis Women’s Alliance — a social purpose corporation with Morgan acting as CEO and Roxanne Taylor as COO.

Team MJBA

MJBA Women’s Alliance

It does my heart proud to see this project take flight on its own. As a parent of a recent High School graduate, I feel the same familiar mix of pride at achieving the significant milestone, and sadness that this precious first chapter of our organizational is ending.

With California, Nevada, Arizona and a dozen or so more States voting for marijuana legalization in November, 2016 represents an inflection point for the legal cannabis industry. Our grand experiment has met with enthusiastic response from eager consumers, and a begrudging realization among politicians that end of prohibition is inevitable so they might as well have a part in crafting what comes next.  I remain excited about what comes next for the industry and the MJBA.

Stay tuned to this space…

The Wink In Weed: Leap Day Cannabis Industry Report

By David Rheins

Happy Leap Day.  The last two weeks of February have been such a whirlwind of hyperactivity for myself and Team MJBA that I need the extra day to tell you all about it.

On February 17th, MJBA Seattle presented, “Managing Your 502 Business,” a two-hour business boot camp designed to provide Washington’s licensed cannabis companies with “must have” information and best practices.  Sponsored by NWMJ Law, the professional education seminar featured presentations from top industry authorities, including Act Resources, Dani Espinda; Mosaic Insurance’s Norm Ives; business coach Debbie Whitlock and NWMJ Law’s Anne Van Leynseele.

The entire event was recorded, and can be viewed on MJChannelOne:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68iRB9vebNQ&w=420&h=315]

The very next day, Team MJBA packed up our tent and made our way down to Seattle’s Pier 91 for CannaCon.  The three-day event, February 18th, 19th and 20th, has become a keystone event for MJBA/MJBA Women’s Alliance, one where we participate as exhibitor, and media sponsor.  This year, both Morgan and I were featured speakers,  I had the honor to moderate 10 panels, and conduct a host of 1:1 taped interviews with CannaCon speakers, exhibitors and other industry leaders (special thank you to Darin Bruce and his AV team).

BDS CEO Roy Bingham delivered a keynote at CannaCon

BDS CEO Roy Bingham delivered a keynote at CannaCon

This was MJBA’s fourth CannaCon and I could not help but be struck by both how large and professional the industry and “the business of cannabis” show has become.   Everyone who is anyone in cannabis was present: Washington’s top cannabis regulators came out to participate as panelists, including WSLCB Director Rick Garza, WSDH’s Kristi Weeks, and the WSDA’s Steve Fuller.  This year’s panelists include a very diverse representation from the broad tent of our cannabis community, including long-time activists like Cat Jeter, Kristin Flor, Don E Wirtshafter and Vivian McPeak; legendary growers like Ed Rosenthal, Kyle Kushman and Farmer Tom Lauerman; media personalities like Katherine Grimm and Cheryl Shuman, and a host of power women in cannabis, including Eden Lab’s AC Braddock, Seattle Hempfest’s Sharon Whitson, Washington’s Finest Cannabis founder Crystal Oliver, Cannabis Basic’s Ah Warner, Kush Creams’ Megan Schwarting, and Washington Bud Company’s Shawn DeNae.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_ewkwNh5kc&w=420&h=315]

On Thursday, February 25th, MJBA Spokane held its February Meetup at a new venue, The Black Diamond.  Jon Legualt, Belladonna Growhouse, was our host and a featured presenter. He shared the stage with Washington’s Finest Crystal Oliver, who updated the group on what’s happening with Spokane’s Clean Air regulations and how they are impacting Eastern Washington producer/processors, and Kevin Oliver, executive director of Washington NORML, who gave the group a report from the legislative fronts in Olympia and Washington D.C.  Front Runner ceo Brian Yauger unveiled his latest offering, MJTicker.com, a real-time business intelligence portal designed especially for participants in the legal cannabis industry.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy5YgjDTntE&w=420&h=315]

And finally, to close out the month, MJBA New York is hosting a Leap Year Happy Hour at Manhattan’s swanky Gansevoort Hotel. Hosted by MJBA NY’s Stu Zakim and Paul Abramson, the evening of information, community and opportunity takes place at the ultra-hip hotel, located at 420 Park Avenue!

Coming up next: MJBA Portland hosts a special Meetup: “Game On: The Business of Cannabis and Sports,” Wednesday, March 2nd at the On Deck Sports bar.  Sponsored by CannaGuard Security, the event will feature opening remarks by NBA All-Star turned cannabis entrepreneur Cliff Robinson, who’ll debut his new “Uncle Spliffy” brand.  Then an industry panel will discuss the many business opportunites that exist at the intersection of sports and cannabis.  VIP Panelists include Uncle Spliffy’s Linda Miller, Siverback Advisory Groups’ Marc Belsher, and Fore-Twenty Golf’s Matt Enos.

Reserve your spot for this historic discussion here:

 

Wink-In-Weed: Cannabis Class Is In Session

By David Rheins 

Class is in session for participants in Washington’s legal cannabis trade.  Coming off of the collegial CCC show in Portland, Team MJBA is back in Western Washington this week continuing our quest to provide professional education and promote best business practices for our nascent industry.

Collaboration was the theme of CCC 2016

Collaboration was the theme of CCC 2016

On Tuesday, February 13th,  6-8:30 at the Factory Luxe  in Seattle, MJBA and NWMJ Law will present,“Managing Your 502 Business,” a 2-hour bootcamp designed to review essential business basics, tools and best practices that every I-502 licensed business should follow.  Attorney Anne Van Leynseele, NWMJ Law, will lead the this 2-hour interactive bootcamp, aided by a VIP Panel of cannabis business experts, including Norm Ives, Mosaic Insurance, CPA Dani Espinda, and business consultant Debbie Whitlock.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mshbd7MS3E&w=560&h=315]

Seating is limited, so reserve your place today!

Thursday, February 18 is the start of CannaCon,  a 3-day celebration of all things canna-business at Pier 91 on Seattle’s waterfront.  This year marks MJBA’s fourth CannaCon.   It has been truly amazing to witness as the show and the industry develop together. CannaCon founder Bob Smart was one of MJBA’s first business members, joining us back in the fall of 2013!

In preparation for the show, Bob, Dave Mesford and I paid a visit to KLAY 1180 AM last week, appearing on “The 411 on 420” talk show, hosted by Amy Ansel and Darrel Bowman.

The 411 on 420, hosted by Amy Ansel and Darrel Bowman

The 411 on 420, hosted by Amy Ansel and Darrel Bowman

Billed as “the world’s largest cannabis marketplace for products, services and ideas” the 2015 Seattle event claimed more than 11,000 attendees, over 200 exhibitors and 50 educational sessions, with over $6 million in business conducted on the floor.”  This year’s CannaCon promises to be even bigger, with a complete sell out of exhibitor booths, and an all-star lineup of speakers.  The event seminar schedule features three separate tracks: Cultivation, Technology and Business Development, and includes some of the industry’s top voices, including Ed RosenthalAh Warner, Megan Schwarting, Farmer Tom Lauerman, Aaron Pelley, Don Wirtshafter and Kyle Kushman

Canna Con 2016

I will have the honor of playing moderator for much of the Business Track sessions on Thursday and Friday.  We’ll cover a host of important topics. I’m particularly excited about our “Town Hall” session Thursday at 1PM with Washington’s top cannabis regulators: WSLCB Director Rick Garza, Washington Department of Agriculture’s Steve Fuller, and the Washington Department of Health’s Kristi Weeks.

MJBA’s Morgan will be moderating and participating on a Women in Cannabis Panel, along with Crystal Oliver, Danielle Rosellison, Sharon Whitson and Shawn DeNae.

Marijuana Channel One will be capturing all the excitement. Look for our live streaming and tweets, and our exclusive interviews with industry thought leaders here.

Senators Ann Rivers, Jeanne-Kohl Wells Keynote “The Power of Politics” on Wednesday, March 25th in Seattle

WASHINGTON: The legal landscape for marijuana businesses in Washington is about to change radically as a result of new legislation under consideration in Olympia designed to bring the state’s unregulated MMJ system together with its nascent I-502 recreational pot industry. The authors of two leading marijuana bills are veteran women lawmakers – and to sell these changes through to the cannabusiness community – both will be featured speakers at “The Power of Politics,” a gathering of the important female cannabis executives. Organized by the MJBA Women’s Alliance, and sponsored by Eden Labs, Washington Bud Company and Cannabis Basics, the exclusive evening of information, inspiration and activation takes place on Wednesday, March 25th, 6PM at the Palace Ballroom in Seattle.

Republican Senator Ann Rivers, author of the market consolidating SB 5052, and Democratic Senator Jeanne-Kohl-Welles, author of SB 6083 calling for home grow for all adults 21+, will explore how Washington’s medical and recreational laws are changing, and how those changes will impact operators of the state’s cannabis businesses.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that women are poised to lead an industry,” mistress of ceremonies and Washington Bud Company founder Shawn DeNae told MJNN in an exclusive conversation.  “Blame it on the Age of Aquarius, on [Facebook COO]  Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In’ or the female nature of the plant we love! Now is the time the important foundation of legal cannabis is being planned and women are helping guide that conversation.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=210Y9i4uEWc&w=560&h=315]

Joining Senators Kohl-Welles and Rivers, will be Bellingham City Councilwoman Pinky Vargas, Mayor of Sultan Carolyn Eslick and Seattle City Councilwoman Jean Godden, along with the MJBA Women’s Alliance’s cadre of  business leaders, including Cannabis Basic’s founder Ah Warner – who helped to write the HABA bill, which would allow for the legal sale of  “topicals” — salves and lotions made with low-levels of THC, and Joy Beckerman, President at WA State Chapter of the Hemp Industries Association, a leading activist helping to legalize industrial hemp in the state.

“Direct communication with our lawmakers is vital and that is why the MJBA Women’s Alliance chose to have this event now,” DeNae explained. “ We do not have the luxury of decades to become part of each other’s circles of influence.  We need to know our lawmakers and they need to know the pioneering women, the entrepreneurial women and the legacy women of cannabis.  We must build trust so we can cross the bridge to legitimacy in every corner of politics beginning at the local level.”

MJBA Women’s Alliance’s “The Power of Politics” takes place on Wednesday, March 25th at 6PM at the Palace Ballroom in downtown Seattle. Tix are available online via EventBrite: 

Washington Celebrates Hot Pot Products For The High Holidays

WASHINGTON: Live from the GreenPole, Higher Ground hit the Hot Pot Product Bazaar for the High Holidays! Check out the greatest gifts on Earth for cannabis connoisseurs!

And if you’re lucky, Sativa Santa will pay you a visit this year! (Make sure to leave him milk and cookies…) Thanks to the wonderful sponsors and MJBA (Marijuana Business Association)!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pHecNBpk0M&w=560&h=315]

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.

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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.”

 

 

 

 

Women In Cannabis: Solidarity And High-Potency Sorbet

WASHINGTON: A power luncheon for women in the marijuana business took place Friday in one of Seattle’s highest locations – the top of the Columbia Tower, where dozens of women in the cannabis business gathered to talk shop and exchange recipes.

A.C. Braddock is CEO of Eden Labs, which makes extraction equipment. These days 90 percent of her business is from clients making high-potency marijuana concentrates.

“Pretty much all of our clients are men,” Braddock said, “which is great, I love men, nothing wrong with men, but my interaction with women over the years has become smaller and smaller until this group.”

Braddock said the women entrepreneurs at this lunch really do bring a different vision for legal marijuana in Washington.

Seattle: MJBA Women’s Alliance Gathers For Business Power Luncheon

WASHINGTON: Looking out across the Puget Sound from this high vantage point, you can almost see the future. MJBA Women’s Alliance will host its first Women & Cannabis Business Power Luncheon on the 76th floor of Seattle’s Columbia Tower Club this Friday, May 16th.

More than Fifty prominent professionals will gather at the event, billed as an afternoon of  “cannabis sisterhood and camaraderie.”

Law enforcement veteran Diane Goldstein, the first female lieutenant for the Redondo Beach Police Department, and Executive Board Member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), will be the VIP Keynote Speaker.

AC Braddock, Kara Bradford & Morgan will host the MJBA Women's Alliance Power Lunch on Friday 5/16 at Seattle's Columbia Tower Club.

AC Braddock, Kara Bradford & Morgan will host the MJBA Women’s Alliance Power Lunch on Friday 5/16 at Seattle’s Columbia Tower Club.

“The mission of the MJBA Cannabis Women’s Alliance is to work collaboratively to enhance the growth and strength of our businesses and the development of the industry,” explained Morgan, president of the Washington Marijuana Business Association and the event’s organizer. “Every day I am more impressed with the quality of work, collaboration and excellence in quality products coming from the women in our Washington cannabis industry”

 

A.C. Braddock, CEO of Eden Labs, who is sponsoring the exclusive event, added, “As a female CEO in an industry that is predominantly male, Eden Labs is honored to be a part of the Women’s Alliance and support the important and groundbreaking work of the women in the Cannabis industry.”

 

Tickets to the exclusive event are $175 for non-members, and $150 for MJBA members, and are available here:

Seattle's Canna-Elite Meet to Celebrate NORML Women's Alliance

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