Cannabis is blazing a number of new trails. Across the industry, novel conventions are being set for what cannabis is, and who engages with it. As one of the strongest examples of the progressive nature of the plant and its culture, the cannabis industry is home to a strong number of female representatives – from executives and entrepreneurs, to influencers and activists.
Diverse in scope and skillset, the contemporary cannabis professional is hard to characterize. In part because the host of professions at work under the industry’s umbrella is diverse, and in part because the personalities that inhabit the space are unique, cannabis has proven a fitting place for a new class of professionals to flex some muscle.
In the U.S., Canada, and across the globe, there are strong female voices that lend perspective on every end of the cannabis conversation. Among those many names and faces, Natasha Raey stands out for both her feminism, and professionalism. A serial entrepreneur who balances her time between Toronto and Vancouver, Raey is the founder of Cadence Health Centre, a multidisciplinary wellness clinic.
Part of the team that pulled the inaugural Lift Expo together, Raey is also a member of an all-female cannabis company called Bast Box. The latest of her many ventures, Bast Box is focused exclusively on bringing to market female health products, including cannabis-infused lube, suppositories and topicals.
“We’re going to see an emergence of beautiful brands and products as we move toward legalization,” Raey says. “When you look at wellness, this plant has helped us with everything from anxiety to sexual health. The opportunity for creativity and innovation is leading to the emergence of an exciting industry that’s based around a plant that we know is natural and beautiful, and does so much for our bodies and our communities.”
Raey points to this particular era – a special juncture of time and space – as the catalyst to much of the progress women have made both in cannabis, and in emerging new industries. She sees the clout women have gained in cannabis as both parallel to the global empowerment movement, but with the ability to transcend other aspects of existence and humanity.
“There’s a lot of momentum around female empowerment with movements like Me Too,” she says. “I think that’s trickling down to industries like cannabis. This is the first time that women have the same chance to enter a legal market as men, so I think we’re all making sure we’re being heard.”
Abi Sampson agrees with that sentiment. A strong voice in the cannabis space, Sampson juggles her time between responsibilities at Tweed, where she is a customer care representative, and as interim director of NORML Canada, an advocacy group established to push for the reformation of cannabis laws in Canada. Sampson says women are, for good reason, synonymous with the emerging cannabis industry.
“Women make the majority of the purchasing decisions in the household, they have money to spend, and with more women coming out of the green closet, it’s promoting other women to come out of the green closet,” she says. “It’s important for women to see someone they can relate to help smash those stigmas, and open up conversations about normalizing what we’re doing.”
Smoking a joint on a Winnipeg street will be very different than doing the same on Toronto’s Spadina Avenue. One is illegal while the other is not, according to the varied provincial laws on public consumption. Understandably, it can be confusing, but experts hope laws will eventually change to allow safe spaces for cannabis consumers to enjoy their products.
While it may be simpler for Canada to launch a nation-wide policy on consuming and growing cannabis, the reality is much more complicated. Every province dictated how it would manage the Cannabis Act within their borders, from the minimum age to buy cannabis, to its retail plan, to homegrow restrictions.
Few cannabis industry influencers have a resume as impressive as Deepak Anand. An active speaker, Anand sits on the board of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) and the National Association of Cannabis Professionals. As the vice-president of business development and government relations at Cannabis Compliance Inc., Anand works daily to help companies cut through the regulatory red tape of commercial and retail cannabis licensing. We recently caught up with Anand to discuss reform, the future of medical cannabis, and his latest venture, the Global Cannabis Partnership. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.
What is hemp and how does it differ from cannabis? A unique variety of the cannabis sativa species, hemp is one of the planet’s most diverse and far-reaching crops. A non-psychoactive form of cannabis, hemp has little THC content, but its applications are even more robust than its more popular counterpart.
When Cassandra Farrington decided to take on cannabis, she did so with one vision: lend the industry some business wings. Since helping Marijuana Business Daily take flight in 2010, Farrington has watched the platform – formed to help business professionals navigate the space – evolve to include one of the most popular business-to-business trade shows in the industry, the MJ Biz Conference. With popular events held in Las Vegas and New Orleans, the conference now has an international arm that calls Toronto home. We caught up with Farrington during her company’s first Canadian stop to discuss its recent successes, and the future of the MJ Biz Conference.
Very few market research firms are as laser-focused as Cann Standard, a pricing analytics firm based in Calgary. What director Brad Martin and his two colleagues accomplish is the detail-oriented work of collating the various prices of dried cannabis, oil and pre-rolled joints to give Canadians a clearer picture of what they should expect to pay in this new post-legalization landscape.
Canada’s government has motioned that it will legalize cannabis for recreational purposes. On October 1 of this year, Canada will become the first G7 nation where the adult use of cannabis is permitted for both medical patients and recreational users. As reform looms, however, there are still a number of questions that need to be answered.
Leslie Best isn’t a prototypical cannabis advocate. In fact, she’s nothing short of the antithesis of a stereotypical stoner – a forty-something suburban mother of three children, and the loving wife of a firefighter and one-time winner of HGTV’s “Canada’s Handyman.” As the matriarch of the family, Best represents a completely new class of cannabis consumer, an altogether balanced presence to the areas of family, healthy living and alternative therapy options.
While practically every Canadian knows October 17, 2018, was the date when cannabis is legalized in the country, some confusion is still rippling from Victoria to St. John’s. Questions may include, “What exactly is legal and illegal?” and “Can I actually grow cannabis at home?” and, very importantly, “What will happen when I try to cross the border to the U.S. and I admit to having used cannabis?”
One of the leading human resource professionals in Canadian cannabis, Alison McMahon founded Cannabis at Work with hopes of helping bridge the industry’s education gap. In the three years since she set out with that earnest goal, her role in cannabis has grown, like the sector around her, to include both a medical and recreational arm. In addition to educating employers about workplace impairment, Cannabis at Work is quickly becoming a top staffing agency for the Canadian cannabis industry.
Marcus Richardson doesn’t pull punches. The first time we met was at a party in the backyard of a mansion in Toronto. He was nestled in the corner unit of an outdoor sectional – the best seat in the house, as far as I could see. When a space opened up on the couch, I slid in and struck up a conversation. I had no idea who I was talking to, and I don’t think he liked me.
There are few places in the world more fitting for a cannabis conference than Niagara Falls. A fast and vibrant city, ensconced by some of the quietest and richest agricultural lands the Canadian countryside has to offer, the natural beauty of Niagara Falls proved once again an inviting place for the second annual Grow Up Conference.
The days of cannabis journalism dominated by pothead stories on how to roll joints and profiles of cannabis-loving rappers are making way for a new kind of reportage in Canada: business journalism mixed with deep peerings into the wider culture of cannabis.
Jay Rosenthal is the professional archetype the cannabis industry once found it hard to attract: educated, intelligent, and insightful. As the co-founder and president of Business of Cannabis, Rosenthal has brought this new space 20 years of experience in media, business and politics – a career that has carried him from his home in Boston, to Washington, Silicon Valley, and finally, his adoptive home of Toronto. We caught up with him recently to discuss pot stocks, the significance of concentrates to consumers, and the future of the cannabis industry. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.
Jon Liedtke is a passionate guy. Over the phone from his home in Windsor, Ontario, his voice rarely dips below an excited tone. For anyone close to cannabis, he’s easy to like. A man with equal parts charm and knowledge, Liedtke can hold a room, which is a fitting trait for the owner of the world’s largest vape lounge.
Whether looking at the commercial or cultural sides of the cannabis space, the potential is clearly visible. Perhaps one of the most exciting prospects for the adult-use market is a reality that has already started to take shape in states like California and Colorado – cannabis tourism. A far shot from conventional, this expanding model includes bus tours, camping, and cannabis friendly lodgings cleverly called, “bud and breakfasts.”
When Carol Gardner brought her English bulldog Max Daddy home for the first time, the Portland resident noticed how her new pet was hobbling around in pain. “He couldn’t walk because his joints were deteriorated,” the 72-year-old says in an interview. “The vet had given him Prozac so he was really out of it.”
Travis Lane has dipped his feet in both worlds. As one of the most respected craft cannabis growers on the West Coast, Lane spent the last decade developing his cultivation techniques and passing his wisdom on to a generation of green thumbs. In recent years, his resume has expanded to include titles like entrepreneur, consultant, and instructor. As Canada readies to welcome reform on October 17, we caught up with Lane to discuss his new projects, a changing of the times in British Columbia, and the future of legal cannabis in Canada.
These days, there are more colleges and universities than ever offering specialty cannabis courses. The diversity of programs – focussing on everything from cannabis cultivation to marketing – is impressive. Spanning nearly every aspect of this robust industry, there are now dozens of courses and colleges looking to accelerate students’ entry into the cannabis space.
Across Canada, entrepreneurs are looking at a new niche business growing rapidly thanks to growing interest in the country’s cannabis landscape: tours and specialized cannabis-heavy experiences.
As cannabis legalization rolled out across Canada, a new employment sector was also created, with trimmers, growers and quality assurance specialists finding work coast to coast. But the average Canadian public consumer will be chatting more often with the cannabis employee on the front lines: the budtender.
In 2018 we were treated to dozens of cannabis-friendly events that impacted both medical and recreational consumers across the world. We pared it down to the top 7 stories that you should know about right now, in order to better inform you for how cannabis will again be top-of-mind for many countries in 2019.
The path to cannabis legalization in Canada is paved with dank intentions.
With recreational cannabis winning the lion’s share of attention with cannabis legalization in Canada, the medical cannabis program faces an uncertain future. But it could still thrive, thanks to health care plans and older Canadians.
When Barinder Rasode watched cancer ravage her friend’s mother, it left a distinct impression on the Surrey, B.C. woman. But for a different reason than you may think: the Surrey native also saw how the cancer sufferer used cannabis in her final years to help ease the pain.