Cannabis is still a bro world

Despite the talk of justice, cannabis remains a brotherly world.

Barbie was a huge success, grossing over $1.4 billion worldwide, and one of the biggest films of last year. It was a story of women who understood and led. But it seems it hasn't had as much success in the cannabis or alcohol industries. Like alcohol, the marijuana industry is male-dominated and has a certain insider feel.

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In 2020, it began to become a regular business practice to diversify management, leadership, and customer base, but when it comes to marijuana, change has been slow. While there are some outstanding female leaders, like Nancy Whiteman, the CEO of grocery giant Wana Brands and top business publisher Debra Borchardt of Green Market Report, there aren't many others.

The world of alcohol is a boy's club, with only 24 percent of women and 4 percent of women of color holding leadership positions in the North American wine, beer and spirits industry. This is an industry that has been booming and hugely profitable since the repeal of Prohibition.

Marijuana is doing better than the alcohol industry. Research from Headset Market Reports in 2023 found that women make up 33.8% of the U.S. cannabis market. In the eyes of the men in power, the industry is not intended for women in the first place or in the first place, which represents a huge miss in market potential.

The minority and the LGBTQS+ community are even less represented. Part of the problem was the rush to fix a problem immediately. New York has upended its recreational offerings, not only disenfranchising would-be minority entrepreneurs but also fueling a massive unlicensed market with over 1,500 dispensaries in New York City alone.

Money is part of the problem and not just the money to be made. Working in the cannabis industry requires money, time and patience. With limited banking options, investors are crucial and women and minorities traditionally do not have the reach of men in the “boys club.” Here too, New York is trying to solve the problem quickly. The 10-year loans it offers to dispensary owners are extremely restrictive and potentially onerous because they give licensees little control over the expansion of their own locations and instead require them to pay a bill handed to them by the state. This could be doomed to failure.

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It's also humorous that some of the industry's biggest scandals have been led by male CEOs/founders, including Medmen, High Times, Skymint and Green Growth Brands.

While growth continues, it will be interesting to see how the industry evolves post-restructuring and larger players in alcohol, tobacco, healthcare and retail enter the market.

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