women run cannabis companies
women run cannabis companies

If Women Ran the Marijuana Industry, Would It Be the Same Trainwreck That It Is Right Now?

Could 'bro culture' be reason along with high taxes and the illicit market on why the industry is failing?

Posted by:
DanaSmith on Thursday Jun 29, 2023

women in cannabis

Around the world, the United States legal cannabis industry has been touted as a pioneer.


After all, the US is home to some of the world’s biggest cannabis markets. But if you take a deeper look, successful cannabis businesses are few and far in between – despite experts projecting that both recreational and medical cannabis sales could actually hit $33.6 billion by the end of this year. If you talk to cannabis business owners around the country, the sentiment seems to be the same: everyone is tired of experiencing failures. They point to many factors at play, such as taxation, over production, the black market, and so on.


Oversupply is great news for customers, because this means that cannabis prices are cheaper than ever. But that comes at a cost. Producers are also struggling worse than ever, and any excess cannabis supply has to stay within the state because of the federally illegal status of cannabis. Mature markets have it worse than anyone else because the supply glut is driving prices dangerously down.


Less Than 25% Of Cannabis Businesses Are Seeing Profits


A new report by Whitney Economics, which is their second yearly Cannabis Operator Sentiment and Business Conditions poll, echoes the same woes. Whitney Economics surveys licensed cannabis businesses each year for the report, in order to have a better understanding of how they perceive their success and lack thereof – and if there are failure, what contributes to it? In their latest version, some of the key findings indicate that there are less than 25% of marijuana business operators in the United States reporting that they are making a profit, a large decrease from the 42% reported the year before.


The findings also point to changing business conditions and markets, while regulations have not been able to adapt. Policies are not supportive of cannabis businesses, which respondents feel is critical to improve operator sentiment and market conditions. In addition, their findings also indicate that regulations and laws are more focused on generating taxes instead of creating a market that is easy to operate a business in.


Other factors cited by operators include increasing costs, reducing wholesale prices, and over-issuance of licenses. In fact, a majority of respondents were in favor of restricting the number of cannabis licenses issued. Taxes are also far too high for many, but this has been an ongoing issue for many years now in several states.


But is there really no other factor contributing to the failure of the cannabis industry?


Enter: Stoner Bro Culture


Unfortunately, even in 2023, there is systemic inequality everywhere particularly when it comes to gender.


But this is especially predominant in the US cannabis industry. In a 2022 report by MJ BizDaily, entitled: Women and Minorities in the Cannabis Industry, just 23.1% of executive positions in marijuana were taken by women. Even the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that 29.1% of mainstream companies have female chief executives.


One third!!! Across all industries.


That is surely problematic, yet no one seems to be talking about it. This conversation should be front and center because, dare we say, if women were at the helm of the cannabis industry – perhaps it wouldn’t be suffering so much. And while I serve you the statistics, you don’t even need it because let’s be real: the mainstream image of stoners, even successful ones these days, are MALE personas.


I mean, just look at some of the most famous pothead comedies: Pineapple Express. Clerks. Cheech and Chong. Dazed and Confused. We aren’t even scratching the surface but you get it. Cannabis culture is so masculine.


There is definitely truth to it, since Business Insider reports that white men account for some 70% of executive positions in the biggest publicly-traded marijuana companies in the country.


So if we turned the tables, would women help drive more growth? As it is right now, women-owned cannabis businesses already struggle with getting access to more capital. But if we look at the trends in other industries – it seems that having more women across the board could be the answer. Forbes discusses the yearly Biz2Credit Women-Owned Business Study, which found that female-owned businesses saw 27% increases in earnings compared to male-owned businesses in 2022.




I am not saying that the cannabis industry is sexist in itself, but with bro culture a real thing, it must be put on the table and looked at how it is effecting earnings and financial data. It’s sadly a representation of societal and systemic problems we are facing as a whole. Definitely, everyone brings something important to the table, in terms of gender – but having a better balance of women in cannabis leadership could be the key that could solve many problems we are facing.


Gender inequality and the striking dominance of stoner bro culture has been an issue for several years now. So much so that there are already campaigns and organizations that are focused on helping more women get into leadership roles within the marijuana industry. It only makes sense, because female consumers are rising quickly. There are just so many female-focused reasons why we use cannabis such as for anxiety, reproductive health, and to cope with motherhood just to name a few.


These issues are something that only fellow women know all too well, but if you leave no seats for women at the table, then all the men can’t help but let a few things slide.


This systemic problem should be addressed at the root – and see the figures change across many industries, including cannabis.





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