Last weekend I had the honor and privilege of speaking on two panels at the 2016 New England Cannabis Convention. The topic of discussion for both panels was "women in the cannabis industry" and I was joined on stage with businesswomen who are leading cannabis industry companies, helping patients access safe medicinal marijuana and inspiring other women to take the leap into this innovative, evolving and complicated industry.
Here are some key takeaways from the panels:
1. Knowledge is power. Explore the educational opportunities available at schools like Oaksterdam, the New England Grass Roots Institute and the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis. Be open-minded and remember that there is no one book, school or all-knowing expert on cannabis.
2. Get connected. Attend networking events, town meetings and local seminars to meet like-minded business people and spread awareness about your talents, your business and your commitment to the industry. Now is the time to build your network of people who can help you get jobs and customers.
3. Do it for the right reason. "Don't jump into the industry just because you think it's the next big thing," fellow panelist Marta Downing of Canna Care Docs advised. Like any other industry, these are real jobs and getting them and keeping them takes time and effort -- and passion.
4. Stick with it, but with a sprinkling of pessimism. Right now, "there is no grass ceiling," explained panelist Julia Germaine of Manna Wellness. But corporate cannabis is coming along with mass production and resulting loss of quality at low costs. Establish yourself in the industry now to help mold corporate cannabis!
5. It's still early. Now is the time to meet as many people as you can and hear as many perspectives as you can so you can confidently develop your own perspective. There is no one book, school or expert on cannabis.
And there's so much more, which is at once exhilarating and intimidating. But with time, effort and commitment, you can be the smartest person in the room -- male or female -- on the topic of cannabis:
1. As a medicine
2. As an answer to the opioid crisis
3. As a recreational experience compared to alcohol
4. As a job-creating industry with billion-dollar potential
5. As an equalizer in social justice
6. As a plant that can heal our bodies and the planet
7. As an opportunity for women of all professional backgrounds to come together and shape this nascent industry into one that embraces female values
And there's so much more, which is both exhilarating and intimidating! But if you're ready to learn more (learning isn't illegal!), please come to Women Grow: Boston's May 5 event, "Find & Stake Your Claim in the Cannabis Industry" with national speaker and job creator Shaleen Title, Esq. of THC Staffing and leading educator Cara Crabb-Burnham from the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis.