By Becky Garrison
The contributions of women to Oregon’s cannabis community were front and center at this year’s Cultivation Classic in Portland.
Among the 28 main-stage speakers, 19 were women, including six women of color. Andi Bixel, creator of Drip Sweets, served as main-stage emcee. Also, every presenter for the May event’s four workshops identified as female.
The Truth About Women in Cannabis, a panel led by Lisa Snyder and Samantha Montanaro, co-creators of Tokeativity, a cannabis community for women, highlighted the realities of women working in the cannabis industry. Seven female entrepreneurs, representing diverse ethnicities and sexual orientations, offered short testimonies to the unique struggles they face as women in their endeavors. From sexual harassment to racial profiling, these women painted a picture that illuminates the dichotomy between the cannabis plant that brought them healing and the growth of a commercialized cannabis industry that discounts their experiences and contributions.
Sara Batterby, principal of The Batterby Group, led a workshop that laid the groundwork for how cannabis entrepreneurs can successfully raise capital in their business’s early phases. While much of the conversation has centered on changing investors’ behaviors, Batterby seeks to arm founders with the skills and confidence they need to raise money. She addressed via an email exchange the inequality that women experience in trying to secure capital for their products.
“In 2015, Oregon had 44-percent female participation in ownership and management in cannabis. That has eroded to 27 percent or so, and I believe that is because, as companies scaled and needed capital to grow, most women were excluded from that capital or did not feel ready or knowledgeable enough to ask for it.”
An accelerator program, The Initiative, for women in cannabis is the latest venture of attorney Amy Margolis. The program will offer a 90-day, intensive program taught by professionals from all over the world. Graduates will get seed funding and introductions to a group of institutional investors who have made a commitment to fund women in cannabis. Applications for this program will be available by the end of this summer. “As institutional capital comes into this space, we’re seeing women being pushed out of leadership roles as more traditional business is coming in,” said Margolis.
Female health experts presented the latest research on cannabis as a pain-relieving substitute for opioids. Dr. Adie Wilson-Poe, chief scientific officer for habu health, returned to the Cultivation Classic to present her latest research alongside doctorate-degree holders Amanda Rieman, of Flow Kana, and Philippe Lucas, of Tilray.
Representation for communities most impacted by the War on Drugs was the focus of three women of color: Coco Madrid, event curator, plus-size model and body-positive advocate; Nicolle Callier, cannabis culture and lifestyle writer; and Amanya Maloba of Women.Weed.Wifi. Moderated by Tiara Darnell, host of the podcast High, Good People, the women addressed how they use their art to make the cannabis industry more diverse.
The first hip-hop dispensary in the world is the brainchild of Nicole Wilke and Karanja (KC) Crews, co-founders of Green Hop. The women plan to offer an art, digital technology and cannabis experience at their shop. Also, they introduced Green Hop Academy, an incubator program designed to help young people of color seeking to become cannabis entrepreneurs.
Additionally, a panel of four women cannabis growers discussed the challenges of remaining sustainable and environmentally conscious as their grassroots operations evolve in this ever-changing legal cannabis market.
Women are key organizers behind many of Portland’s cannabis events, which include in addition to the third-annual Cultivation Classic, the Oregon Cannabis Association Summer Fair, Arcane Revelry’s CBD events, the Cannabis Collaborative Conference (CCC) and the event spaces Tillamook Station and Prism House. In Cultivation Classic founder Steph Barnhart’s estimation, “Event planning demands multi, multitasking which lends themselves to feminine individuals who are comfortable with and enjoy having so many balls in the air. We can create platforms that bring a lot of people together to curate the conversations around cannabis.”
For more information about the Cultivation Classic, go to https://cultivationclassic.cc