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Cannabis Industry Focus: Plant Medicine Advocates on Women's Equality Day

In honor of this special day we asked leaders in the plant medicine community to share their thoughts on what it means to them.
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According to the National Women’s History Alliance, “Women's Equality Day is celebrated in the United States today, August 26 to commemorate the 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex.” In honor of this special day we asked leaders in the plant medicine (cannabis, psychedelics etc) community to share their thoughts on what it means to them.

1. Eminent Consulting Co-founder Emma Chasen:

When I reflect on the ideas, projects, and voices in the cannabis and psychedelic space that I am most excited about, women are all at the helm. Women are brilliant and kind and are leading in ways that value and care for human beings, which is the most important value of all. From women in science like Dr. Adie Rae, Dr. Ruth Fisher, Dr. Rachel Knox, Dr. Shena VanderPloeg — to women in creative exploration like Lauren Yoshiko, Anja Charbonneau, Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey, and all of the team at Broccoli Mag, Chloe Popove of Another Room — to women in justice and advocacy like Mary Pryor, Natalie Papillion — to women at the forefront of the psychedelic movement like Doubleblind Mag and Fruiting Bodies Co. I continue to be inspired, motivated by, and in awe of women.

2. Budding Mind Founder Brooke Burgstahler

I sometimes wonder if my female ancestors are looking down on me like “Wait, our girl is a working woman? Oh, she has her own business?? HOLD UP — she works in CANNABIS?!” Every day women chisel away at the barriers that once bound them. I feel so blessed to be on Earth doing what I do in this very moment, and I am endlessly inspired by what the future holds for all people and plants. Just look at the incredible work Amy Povah of CANDO Clemency is doing to help pot prisoners get released, or Mary Pryor of Cannaclusive who is advocating for minorities in the industry, or the deliriously funny comedian Rachel Wolfson who's normalizing smart-stoner chicks. Women in weed are game changers, path pavers, and human healers.

3. MD Numbers Co-Founder Marie Montmarquet

“Making sure women have the opportunity to create the foundation of business and ethics is critical to cannabis sustainability in all aspects because there is an important need for diverse perspectives in business. We cannot accomplish a balanced ecosystem in life without it. I’d like to shout out a woman I admire greatly, Angela White of Success Centers’ Equity for Industry Program.

4. DoubleBlind Co-founder / CEO Shelby Hartman

As the interest in psychedelics has grown, there's also been a growing force of people speaking out about the importance of equity, accessibility, and transparency in the space. This includes a growing contingent of strong, incredible womxn—from attorneys to healers, therapists, and scientists. If there's any industry that's poised to reimagine how we relate to our work and to one another, I like to believe it is the psychedelic industry. And that the grace, determination, and devotion of so many of the womxn I know in the space will play an important role in that. It's important, too, to acknowledge that we are standing on the shoulders of giants, from Maria Sabina to Ann Shulgin. Womxn may not have received as much recognition, historically, as their male counterparts, but they've been playing an integral role in psychedelic healing all along.

5. 87 Months Founder Evelyn LaChapelle

Being a Black woman in this industry after being negatively impacted by the war on cannabis means that I have an opportunity to reclaim not only my space in this industry, but also the 87 months stolen from me while sitting in prison for this plant. I hope the future of this industry includes women that look like Sha'carri Richardson who was recently disqualified from the Olympics because of her cannabis consumption.

6. Cannabis Industry Consultant and Strategic Advisor Andrew DeAngelo

My mom fought hard for equal rights for women during the 1970s. Being raised by a single mom in those days meant I grew up with a lot of strong women around me. Today, I respond to leaders who care more about getting the job done than how they are perceived while doing it. That usually means I am working with women by choice. I want to be in the trenches with collaborators who listen well and are willing to personally sacrifice for the team. I find women leaders do this better than their male counterparts. 

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I get better work done when I am working with leaders that embrace empathy and emotional intelligence but also have high standards and expectations. Good communicators and people who use their sense of humor to diffuse tough situations are always types I will follow into any challenge. For these reasons and more, I try to surround myself with strong women just as my mom did when I was a kid.

7. MJ Unpacked Co-founder Kim Jage

Inclusion doesn’t highlight differences. It offers a seat at the table in mainstream discussions. It requires listening.”

8. Tokeativity Co-founder Lisa Snyder

Being a woman, specifically a lesbian woman, in the cannabis industry is incredibly humbling and challenging. Everyone, even men, is wounded by the patriarchy's desire to dominate and control. There is this belief that women have to take the same approach in order to be successful. And unfortunately unless we demand otherwise, we will continue to perpetuate the same cycles of oppression in the cannabis industry. We are the first generation of women to have the privilege of approaching relationships differently than our mothers and grandmothers before us simply due to discrimination laws that are now in place (such as ability to buy a house or get a credit card without a man's signature) and the focused equality efforts made by today's activists. Additionally, learning how to resolve conflicts and communicate needs with clarity and sincerity with others when it arises. I've seen a lot of women come and go and a lot of women ruin relationships because of their inability to understand their needs and communicate it to others.

We don't have to suffer in order to succeed. Align yourself with positive intentions of wanting everything to work out for it's highest good for all, and then keep focused on what you do best. People will be attracted to you without you having to run people over every time you feel jealous of someone or spend your energy trolling people online when you could be using that energy to grow your business. Always take the high road and it will lead you to the most amazing opportunities.

9. WAFBA (We Are For Better Alternatives) President Morris Beegle

There is no more important time than right now where women, at the very least, should have an equal voice and equal rights with men. And honestly, they really deserve to make up for lost time and take the reins for a while. Humanity's survival chances would improve.

10. Mommy Jane Founder Jessica Gonzalez

I could not be here to celebrate another year in cannabis or have an opportunity to share my gratitude for the women who got me here, if it weren’t for Sharon Letts. Many women in cannabis have Sharon Letts to thank for her hard work of putting personal stories of patients and celebrities who choose cannabis on the map, or at least onto the eyes of the community and mainstream media. Not only has she done a tremendous job helping others share their truth about cannabis, but she has a website documenting her journey with overcoming cancer with cannabinoid medicine, and how she continues to use plant medicine daily to health through trauma. Sharon is a wealth of knowledge and kindness and I am so lucky that I had a chance to get to know her early on in my career. She is the cannabis mom I never had, and I love her so much for her guidance and opportunities she has thrown my way.

11. Cannabis Activist Katree Saunders

One of my favorite women in cannabis is Mary Bailey over at Last Prisoners Project. She has been an amazing mentor and support for me by helping me obtain an apprenticeship with Jeff, Marshawn Lynch and the Dodi Blunt brand. I also look up to Zarilla Bacon, a celebrity chef. She’s like a sister to me. Both of these women continue to inspire me with their compassion and dedication to help others. 

Being a woman in the cannabis industry is important to me. I feel empowered to use this plant based medicine and educate others from advocacy to endocannabinoid therapy. I love to educate on the endocannabinoid system. Having the proper educational tools to empower you to make the best choices when choosing different cultivars is essential. I see more women leadership and ownership in the future. More women are becoming empowered to launch their own businesses. Women are so innovative. I am excited to see what the future may hold for my up and coming brand, as well as other women following their dreams.

12. 40 Tons Chief Operations Officer Anthony Alegrete
As a male, in a male dominated industry, I am honored and humbled to call my wife of 22 years our leader. When we go to prison over cannabis related offenses, it is usually the grandmother, mother, daughter and/or wife that picks up the pieces of the broken puzzle and helps to support the family and put it back together. On this Women's Equality Day, I would like to honor my wife Loriel. She did not ask to be put into many compromised positions, left having to take care of three children, and take care of all of the household bills, while also making sure that I was OK serving my prison sentences. She did it very stoically and never complained, always wearing a smile. Just because someone carries it well, doesn't mean it isn't heavy! Loriel and the other woman just like her are proof that leaders come in all sexes, sizes, shapes, and nationalities. Cheers to you, Loriel.

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