Entrepreneur

Women Are Disappearing From the Cannabis Industry. Why?

The industry's most powerful women are working to fix it.
Source: J.M. Navarro
J.M. Navarro

When cannabis was legalized in Oregon, many people saw business opportunity. But Amy Margolis saw something more specific: She saw business opportunities for women. 

Margolis was a criminal defense attorney in Portland and had spent a decade defending cannabis growers who’d been caught by the police. Once the state legalized bud, she turned to corporate law and helped local entrepreneurs enter the industry. “I just pivoted with my clients,” she says. And as she did, she says, she saw women flood into the marketplace. They were starting dispensaries, creating new products, and, like her, providing needed services to cannabis entrepreneurs. The industry struck her as more equitable than others, where men tend to dominate the upper ranks.

But she wouldn’t say that anymore. Four years after recreational marijuana was legalized in Oregon, Margolis sees an influx of investors swiftly changing the industry’s culture. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that as traditional capital starts to come into this space, starts to overwhelm the space, we are seeing women either pushed out or unable to get funding,” she says. “Men seem to control funding overall, and they would prefer to fund men.”

Related: Will the Cannabis Industry Be the First True Gender Equalizer?

The cannabis industry is still young, exciting, and bursting with potential,, a cannabis-focused investment fund that sits at the intersection of cannabis and big finance. “[The year] 2014 doesn’t seem that long ago. But in cannabis land, that was ages ago,” says Rehmatullah. “You could be a woman or a minority and get into the space and start a company. But as the market has evolved, it has shifted to look like other industries. The barriers are becoming more evident.”

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