Women’s Equality Day commemorates the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allowed women to vote in government elections for the first time. Since the 1920 amendment went into effect, women have continued to blaze their own trails throughout the country – especially within the cannabis industry.
Although the Nineteenth Amendment is supposed to signify true equality between the sexes, it’s no secret that women in the workplace (and beyond) have struggled to earn fair treatment and respect, no matter the industry.
But despite the constant setbacks and disappointments, women have persisted, and the cannabis industry is a true testament to women’s successes. Women account for 37% of leadership roles in the cannabis industry, far higher than the national business average of 21%, and they have been some of the most notable supporters of legalization in general.
In honor of this national holiday and the continued celebration and empowerment of women all over the world, we’d like to highlight some of the most accomplished women in cannabis, and the amazing contributions they’ve made to the budding industry.
Mary Jane Rathbun (Brownie Mary)
When it comes to women in cannabis, Brownie Mary is one of the most well-known names in the industry. An advocate through and through, Brownie Mary worked as a hospital volunteer in San Francisco throughout the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s and ’90s.
Patients were dying at a terrifying rate, and with no cure in sight or any sort of direction or recognition from President Reagan, the only thing that provided any sort of relief from the horror and pain was cannabis.
Brownie Mary quickly became known for her distribution of cannabis-infused brownies to AIDS patients. She was arrested three times before the City of San Francisco eventually granted her permission to distribute her brownies.
The awareness she raised helped contribute to the passage of Prop 215, which legalized medical cannabis for Californians in 1996.
Wanda James is the founder and CEO of cannabis brand and dispensary Simply Pure, the first Black-owned-and-operated cannabis dispensary in the country. A Navy veteran, James also worked on the National Finance Committee for President Obama.
Today, she is a powerful advocate for equity throughout the cannabis industry. She is one of the most influential women in cannabis to date.
Nidhi Lucky Handa
You may have seen LEUNE once or twice on the Eaze delivery app, but do you know the origin story behind the iconic cannabis brand? LEUNE was founded by Nidhi Lucky Handa, a trailblazer for women who use the plant for their benefit.
Handa was originally drawn to cannabis as a consumer, but she quickly realized there weren’t any brands on the market that spoke to her or her peers. This inspired her to launch LEUNE, the California-based lifestyle cannabis brand that promotes expungement, equity, anti-racism, and awareness.
Jessica Billingsley is the brains behind Akerna, the first cannabis compliance technology company to be publicly traded on NASDAQ.
The company connects data points across the global cannabis supply chain to create “one of the world’s most transparent and accountable consumer packaged goods supply chains on a global scale.”
A tech guru herself, Billingsley has expertly fused the tech world with cannabis, bringing a seed-to-sale monitoring system that is considered revolutionary in the industry today.
Carolina Vazquez Mitchell
If you prefer high potency tinctures, you’ll want to meet the powerhouse behind Luchador. In addition to founding Dreamt, the iconic line of sleep products on our menu, Carolina Vazquez Mitchell, a member of Momentum’s inaugural class, overcame humble beginnings in Mexico before making a splash on our industry by founding Ciencia Labs.
“I enrolled in a PhD program in chemistry where I was studying a weird protein that nobody cares about” before working with startups making food with cannabis and absolutely falling in love with that path.
The rest is history and now you can find Luchador and Dreamt’s products on Eaze’s social equity menus.