MRCC

Grow, Gift, Repair

Great article on diversity around the country.

Massachusetts plans a study breaking down license holders by race and gender and looking at possible barriers to getting into the industry. Licensing is expected to start this summer.

The trade publication Marijuana Business Daily surveyed 567 senior executives, company founders and those with ownership stakes in marijuana businesses, and found the percentage of women in executive roles fell from 36 percent in 2015 to 27 percent in 2017. One possible reason: the executive structure of more mainstream businesses, where men hold most senior-level positions, is seeping into the industry, said Eli McVey, an analyst with the publication.

One way to boost investment in women- and minority-owned businesses is through more laws like the ones in some communities that reserve a certain number of marijuana licenses for those populations and by expunging criminal records for pot-related offenses, said Windy Borman, a Colorado-based filmmaker whose movie “Mary Janes: The Women of Weed” documents her evolution from skeptic to self-proclaimed “puffragette.”

She also advocates training for skills like business-plan writing for those wanting to shift from the black market to legal market, and increased mentorship.

The industry must attract new consumers to expand, she said. Women generally make family decisions on health and wellness, and women have an opportunity to design products that fit with their lifestyle, she said.

“We’re not necessarily interested in the largest bong ever built,” she said. “We need products that fit into our lifestyle that are more discreet and they’re not going to be covered in Jamaican flags and big pot leaves and things like that.”

Jane Stinson, a self-described hippy during her 20s, worked for 20 years for an Alaska pipeline company. Her interest in cannabis was reignited when her mother was diagnosed with cancer and the family sought ways to help ease the side effects.

At roughly the same time, Stinson was ready to retire, her son learned how to grow marijuana in California, and voters legalized adult marijuana use in Alaska.

“The stars were aligned,” said Stinson, who opened one of Alaska’s first retail shops in Anchorage with her son and daughter.

It hasn’t been easy getting into the industry: Stinson works up to 14 hours a day. But she now has 15 employees and is looking to expand. There is less of a stigma around marijuana in Alaska than there was five years ago, she said.