Entrepreneurship Mar 08, 2019

Meet 4 Women Working to Grow the Cannabis Industry

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are highlighting four women who are defining the future of the cannabis industry. These women, and others like them, are holding their ground at the top of our industry and making it possible for others to follow in their footsteps. We asked each of them to give some insight into their jobs and offer advice for others looking to break into the cannabis space.

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Name & Title: Jennifer Stack, Chief Administrative Officer – Theraplant, the first medical marijuana producer in Connecticut to supply dispensaries with cannabis products, established in 2014.

Years in the cannabis industry: 5

What drew you to the cannabis industry?

I actually got into this industry by a stroke of luck. Back in 2014, I received a call out of the blue from the CEO of Theraplant’s wife, inviting me in for an interview. I had business management experience, but knew absolutely nothing about the cannabis industry and wasn’t actively seeking a new job at the time. I almost didn’t even accept the interview, thinking it might be a scam.  

After a little research, I knew what a valuable opportunity I had stumbled into, but even then I worried about all the potential repercussions. What if my family didn’t approve? Would it make my resume less marketable down the road? What if legislation did not favor medical use in the future? I laugh at all of that now, of course. Coming to work for Theraplant was the best decision I ever made.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Looking back on how far we have come in just a few short years is incredibly gratifying. When I joined Theraplant, it was like 15-20 of us hustling to be the first to market with product. We were entering into uncharted territory and everyone had to pitch in to get harvests down, products packaged/shipped and manage the expectations of the many stakeholders met (patients, dispensaries, regulators, investors…).

Now, here we are five years later, and we have about 10 different departments with teams of people dedicated to production, quality, compliance, sales, etc. We’re supplying over 30,000 medical patients with high-quality products while creating jobs and helping legitimize our industry. What’s not to love about all of that?

Any advice for women looking to get into the cannabis industry?

Don’t be scared to apply for jobs even if you don’t have any direct experience. The industry is still so new that very few applicants have hands-on experience and, often, it’s preferable to hire someone with a blank slate that is willing to learn. A lot of skills developed in other industries translate quite well to what we do, so don’t you dare count yourself out before even applying. Put yourself out there!

Anything else you’d like to add about being a female leader in this industry or in general?

Hats off to all of the strong, female leaders in the industry right now. Being a woman comes with its own set of challenges. Working in this industry adds a whole other layer. You’re redefining expectations in a big way and the next generation will thank you for it. Bravo!

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Name & Title: Claire Moloney, Growth Manager – LeafLink, the wholesale cannabis marketplace.

Years in the cannabis industry: 3 years

What drew you to this industry?

Honestly, I had never considered working in cannabis until Ryan (LeafLink’s CEO & co-founder) called me and told me he was starting a company in the industry. I had been working in early-stage startups in the sustainability sector, but I had always wanted to work with Ryan and so I decided to take the leap. Now, I absolutely love working in the industry because it’s brand new and full of startups. Very few companies in this space are more than five years old. As a self-proclaimed “startup junkie”, it’s incredibly exciting.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is solving problems. After digging into data, brainstorming with the team, and executing on a solution together – there is nothing better than finding out that it worked.

Any advice for women looking to get into the cannabis industry?

If you’re looking to get into cannabis, seek opportunities that are a match for your experience. We have a lot of candidates apply for LeafLink who say they would be willing to work in any position to get their foot in the door, but in fact, we’re more interested in candidates that apply to a specific role with a particular skill set that we need to help us grow our business.

This industry is rapidly growing, and so it needs experienced hires from other industries with the know-how to help it advance and scale quickly. Many people are interested in the cannabis space right now (and rightfully so), so it’s important to differentiate yourself from the competition by leading with your unique qualifications.

Anything else you’d like to add about being a female leader in cannabis or in general?

Fear is a normal part of success. In fact, if you don’t feel scared, you’re probably doing something wrong. If you think about it, every successful person that you know had to do something for the first time without knowing what they were doing. They just chose not to let that uncomfortable feeling of fear stop them.

I think this is especially true in cannabis, where shifting legal landscapes throw a lot of curveballs our way. There’s always the fear that another change in legislation or another competitor will pop up and force us to change course. The best companies (and leaders) are the ones that accept challenges head-on and bake adaptation into their culture.

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Name & Title: Lynn Honderd, CEO – Mary’s Brands (including Mary’s Medicinals, Mary’s Nutritionals, and Mary’s Methods)

Years in the cannabis industry: I’ve been in the industry 6 years, We developed the idea for the Transdermal Patch in late 2012 and launched Mary’s Medicinals on April 20, 2013.

What drew you to the cannabis industry?

Growing up I was not into cannabis and, quite honestly, was not an advocate for legalization. You could have coined me Nancy Reagan’s poster child for “just say NO.” That viewpoint has drastically changed obviously, and from the inception of me getting into this industry, it has become unequivocally clear that consumption of cannabinoids is a far safer alternative to pharmaceuticals for relief.

After a few years in the industry, there was a knock on Mary’s manufacturing facility door.  To my surprise, there was this sweet little girl standing on the other side holding her mom’s hand. This is the moment Mary’s met Leah, a 9-year-old girl who was diagnosed with Secondarily Generalized Clonic-Tonic seizures (SGCTS) years ago. Leah was once on eight pharmaceuticals and experiencing an extremely poor quality of life until she started a high CBD regimen using Mary’s Remedy Oil. Today, she is off her pharmaceuticals completely and living the life of a healthy and happy child.  

The morning she came to Mary’s, Leah said, “Hi, I’m Leah and I want to meet the people who make me feel better and thank them.” Patients are at the heart of why Mary’s is in the cannabis industry.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Reading the stories of and meeting the people we get to help. Whether it is relief from epilepsy or relief from stress, it is so rewarding to know how many people we help.

Any advice for women looking to get into the cannabis industry?

Surround yourself with people you trust, and who are experts in what they do.

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Name & Title: Kendal Norris, Founder of Mason Jar Event Group, an event company focused on providing experiences centered on cannabis culture, dining, music and more.

Years in the cannabis industry: 5

What drew you to this industry?

Passion for the plant, its diverse community, and watching women I respect start companies or leave “mainstream” industries to help burgeon an infant industry and apply their unique skill sets to the needs of the cannabis industry.  

What is your favorite part of your job?

All of it except chasing people for money and preparing for tax season!

Any advice for women looking to get into the cannabis industry?

Find other women doing what you want to be doing or something similar. Go to events and retreats; find and connect with your tribe!

Anything else you’d like to add about being a female leader in this industry or in general?

Favorite quote: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other” Madeline Albright

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Not on LeafLink? 

LeafLink is the cannabis industry’s standard wholesale ordering platform connecting over 900+ brands and 2,500+ retailers across 15 markets. Are you a brand? Request a demo. Retailer? Sign up to place your first order today.