Women in the Industry

Our second annual tribute to the women who have made an impact on cannabis business

Welcome to Marijuana Venture’s second annual issue dedicated to the women who are leaders and innovators in the cannabis industry. Rather than listing the most important or most successful women, we wanted to highlight a cross-section of farmers and retail store owners, investors and activists. We wanted to feature women who had never graced the pages of Marijuana Venture before, either as contributors or as the subjects of stories.

Enjoy this year’s special on women in the cannabis industry, and please, let us know about the extraordinary women we didn’t include so we can make sure our coverage of the marijuana business is as comprehensive as the industry deserves. Email suggestions to Editor@MarijuanaVenture.com.

 

Hilary Dulany: Jill of All Trades

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When Michigan passed its medical marijuana legislation in 2008, Hilary Dulany followed an unconventional path into the cannabis industry — through journalism.

She began publishing The Midwest Cultivator, a newsprint trade journal for cannabis growers and businesses.

“I started that with literally $50 and grew it to a regional, then national publication,” Dulany says.

It was one of the first business-focused cannabis publications in the country, and it provided Dulany an inside look on the industry that helped prepare her for the future. It allowed her to develop an unbiased impression of all facets of the cannabis business, from cultivation to processing to dispensary operations.

“I call that time period my master’s degree in cannabis,” says Dulany, now an executive for multiple cannabis-related endeavors. “Owning the publication, I went into dispensaries. I got to experience what budtenders did. I talked to owners regularly. Owning the publication and really being immersed in all the different market segments that we reported on allowed me to see how the market was developing and see where the deficiencies were.”

Having outgrown its regional status, the publication adopted a new name — The American Cultivator — and topped out at a circulation of about 60,000 in 13 states. But Dulany had a falling out with a business partner, and eventually donated the publication to a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Although she never really made any money from The American Cultivator, it served as the launch-pad for future endeavors.

She’s now the CEO of Accuvape, a vaporizer company, and co-CEO of Aardvark Extracts and Aardvark Farms.

Rather than producing high-end, expensive paraphernalia, Accuvape focused on vaporizers that the majority of cannabis consumers could afford. Dulany started the company with a $9,800 loan.

“When I decided I was going to be serious about it, I grossed over a million dollars in sales of $20-50 vaporizers in the first 18 months,” she says. “By Black Friday, I think people are going to pay attention to us even more.”

With Accuvape picking up steam, she’s turning more of her attention to future plans in the cultivation and processing side of the industry in Oregon.

“We came out here and realized that if we could create an infrastructure and create something that’s functional and profitable, we could take that experience into other states,” she says. “One of our goals is to be able to bring what we’ve built here in Oregon and bring that back to Michigan once they get concentrates regulated.”

 

Cathy Mead: The Compassionate CEO

Cathy Mead (right) with founding team member Katie Urso inside Cathy's Compassion Center.

Cathy Mead (right) with founding team member Katie Urso inside Cathy’s Compassion Center.

Breast cancer survivor steadily expands the scope of her business

In an industry full of retailers and producers clamoring for national recognition, Cathy Mead stands apart as a business owner who isn’t chasing recklessly after a big pay-day.

“We don’t want to be the biggest, we just want to be the best,” Mead says.

Now, after being open for nearly four years, the owner and namesake of Cathy’s Compassion Center, has the overwhelming support of Cochise County to expand her business.

“I think it’s because we didn’t make it a pot shop,” Mead says. “I watched a lot of other people in the state put out an awful lot of money in the beginning. We all did — it’s not an inexpensive venture — but I think some may have put out more than they really needed to in order to grow.”

Cathy’s Compassion Center has been granted permission to build a 140,000-square-foot greenhouse, 20,000-square-foot indoor grow facility and a new 5,000-square-foot dispensary. But Mead, a breast cancer survivor, says she prefers to slowly expand as necessity dictates.

“We are going to put up the first 35,000 (square feet of greenhouse) in the next three months,” she says. “As the demand warrants, then we will keep expanding.”

In 2012, Cathy’s Compassion Center was the third licensed medical marijuana dispensary to open in Arizona. Mead has taken careful steps to avoid unnecessary expenses. For its first two years of operation, Mead ran the entire company, including a grow operation, dispensary and statewide delivery service, with the aid of just two employees.

“I am the CEO, delivery driver, janitor, landscaper, public relations person, HR department,” she says. “You get the picture.”

Now, the operation has expanded to nine employees, including Mead’s husband Bob, her daughter Anna and son Tom, but the business still pays $300 a month to rent the same single-wide manufactured trailer where the company was founded.

“Being in a rural area, we only get maybe four people at a time,” Mead says. “So we have two stations where we can get patients in and get them out. I haven’t had any reason to go any bigger yet.”

Mead says the remote location of her dispensary drew questions from her friends asking why she would build a niche business surrounded by neighbors on 10-acre parcels.

Located about an hour southeast of Tucson, Mead describes Cochise as “a part of Arizona that people didn’t even know existed,” she says. “But we had the Field of Dreams mentality: ‘If you build it, they will come,’ and they have.”

With the recent approval to expand, Mead says she eventually plans to add new amenities like isolation tanks, yoga classes, a meditation room, an on-site acupuncturist and a nature trail for relaxing strolls through Texas Canyon.

“But I’m not that fancy yet,” Mead says. “In the tortoise and the hare, we’re the tortoise. I want to take our time and grow slowly.”

Cathy’s Compassion works closely with Arizona’s medical community, including Arizona Oncology, Ironwood Cancer & Research Center and the Tucson Children’s Hospital.

“We donate (cannabis) to children 17 and under who are dealing with seizures, cancer, autism,” Mead says. “Anything that we grow here we donate to them free of charge.”

Mead, whose father died of cancer, says she was appalled by marijuana use until she saw how it helped ease her father’s pain. Seeing its medicinal benefits inspired her to pursue a career in medical marijuana. Donating to charities and promoting cannabis as medicine, she says, is the driving force behind the operation.

“If we can’t do that then we shouldn’t be in the business,” she says.

 

Susan Crownhart: Mother of SAINTS

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Unexpected ambassador takes a leading role in establishing states cannabis program

In 2010, when the debate over medical marijuana dominated the local news in Arizona, Susan Crownhart didn’t envision herself getting into the cannabis business.

At the time, she was working in granite sales. She and her husband were putting their oldest child through college and raising another two at home.

But when Proposition 203 passed and her boss, Rouben Beglarian, won a dispensary license, she began to think about a career change.

Beglarian asked Crownhart if she wanted to take over sales at the granite shop.

“No,” Crownhart responded. “I would rather work at the dispensary.”

Beglarian opened Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies on Dec. 1, 2012, making it the first licensed dispensary in the state and turning Crownhart into an overnight ambassador for the industry.

“I never would have fathomed this,” she says. “People that know me, they are surprised to find out that this is what I do.”

As the operations manager and spokeswoman, Crownhart oversees day-to-day business at Southern Arizona Integrated Therapies, otherwise known as SAINTS of Tucson.

Even after helping run the business for the past four years, Crownhart can still hear her family hold their breath whenever somebody asks what she does for a living.

“I’m not embarrassed at all by what I do,” she says. “It’s just that everyone is so curious — even the most conservative of people are so curious. Sometimes I don’t tell them what I do just so it doesn’t monopolize the conversation.”

With expectations from the media, regulators, industry supporters and patients, Beglarian and Crownhart had to pave the way for future dispensaries and help guide the evolution of Arizona’s medical marijuana program without any sort of guide to follow.

“Because it was such a new industry, we couldn’t just open a book to find out how to operate a marijuana business,” Crownhart says. “People would come in and we’d be logging what works and what doesn’t work; I’d look for patterns with them. But like with anything, it comes down to managing and planning, which seems to be my whole life.”

Since its launch, SAINTS has doubled in both size and product offerings. Crownhart, who majored in business and marketing at the nearby University of Arizona, oversees the daily operations of the cultivation facility and dispensary and helps coordinate marketing and branding strategies.

“We wanted to definitely be professional, still medical, but a little on the edgier side,” Crownhart says. “I want someone to look at an ad, and without reading the print, know that is our ad.”

Recently, she began working to revamp the company’s online presence and start a new social media marketing push. In order to help manage the grow operation, she turns to Alison Gross to handle the day-to-day inventory management. Crownhart says that women are the driving force at SAINTS on both sides of the counter. The majority of the dispensary’s patients are female, she says.

“I think women in this industry, and really women in any industry, act as a backbone,” she adds. “Not to take away anything from men and what they accomplish, but I think women in general are better multi-taskers.”

 

Khadijah Adams: Invested in Cannabis

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Khadijah Adams is the founder and senior managing partner of MIPR Holdings, LLC, a professional consulting and investor relations group in Aurora, Colorado.

Her company works with and coaches small to mid-size businesses looking to raise capital and network with other industry partners.

She has a background in sales, networking and public speaking on the empowerment of women and issues of diversity.

Most recently she became a managing member of Women Abuv Ground, an organization focused on helping women of color get into the legal cannabis industry.

She is a regional board member of the National Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, business member of the National Cannabis Industry Association, executive committee member of the NCIA Minority Business Council and a member of Cannabis Consumer Coalition.

 

Marijuana Venture: How did you get started in this industry?

 

Khadijah Adams: After watching Colorado legalize recreationally, I made a decision to sell everything in my home except my clothes, computer, cell phone and car and moved to Colorado. My ex-husband sold our computer retail company for less than pennies on the dollar and we drove from Sugar Land, Texas to Aurora, Colorado on March 14, 2014. My main interest at the time was to learn what I needed to learn so I could start re-educating communities of color about the importance of getting involved in this newly legalized industry.

My goal is to help create generational wealth for my family and other families of color. I could literally see the end at the beginning. I could see where the industry was going so I decided to sacrifice it all — family, relationship, business, reputation, etc. — to enter the most controversial industry in America and hold on as an African-American mother and grandmother.

 

MV: How did networking help you get started, and how do you use what you learned from your early experiences to help newcomers in the industry now?

 

KA: Networking is key to building any business. It allowed me to meet key industry leaders and develop and nurture relationships that eventually helped me build my business. When I arrived in Aurora, Colorado on March 15, 2014, my first networking event was the very next day, and I continue to attend networking events at least five to seven times per month or more, in and out of the state of Colorado.

I use what I learned to help new entrepreneurs the last Saturday of every month. I host a canna-brunch in Denver for entrepreneurs that offers a continental breakfast along with some business building tools and coaching and tips for their business. The canna-brunch is designed to help guide young entrepreneurs entering the space.

 

MV: How did you build up your expertise?

 

KA: It’s important coming into any new business to have a mentor, someone to help guide you through the process. When I started in the cannabis industry, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I started with networking and then immediately got involved with the community. I participated as a volunteer and donated to different causes until I figured it out.

When I realized that I wanted to invest in marijuana companies and help entrepreneurs do the same, I immediately reached out to the top man in the investment sector of the cannabis industry for guidance: Jason Spatafora, ‘The Wolf of Weed Street,’ and co-owner of MarijuanaStocks.com. Who better to teach me the stock market than the man who took only a few thousand dollars and turned it into a several hundred thousand in a matter of months?

While receiving mentoring from him and people like (Dixie Elixirs CEO) Tripp Keber and a few others, I continued to network and study the industry and the OTC market. Finally, I started to invest myself to see if I could do it successfully, and when I did, I began to test others.

So far, I’ve invested in more than 25 different marijuana companies and I’m connecting other investors to opportunities in the industry; as well as helping companies with capital raise support services.

I continue to build my expertise by remembering that every good leader was once a good student. So I remain in student mode as I grow and make it a point to learn whatever is necessary or required to help me master my skills.

 

MV: What are the biggest challenges you face in this industry? How have you overcome some of those challenges?

 

KA: As an African-American woman from Texas now living in Colorado, coming into an industry first as an ‘outsider’ was very challenging for me. Many people didn’t know how to take me at first. I’m a very positive person who’s not afraid to speak up and take risks. And when I arrived in Colorado the industry had horrible experiences of scammers and fraudsters, so right off everyone was on alert, primarily because those bad people came in as sheep, but ended up being wolves.

When I realized this I empathized and continued to offer my assistance where needed both physically or monetarily. I immediately made friends with many of the activists and leaders in the industry, and have established an impeccable reputation in the industry now as a professional consultant, public speaker and business coach.

Another challenge was being the newbie in the industry at the time. Many of these guys didn’t take me seriously because I was investing in public companies and not private companies, and I was teaching other people how to do the same. These guys (from the investment sector of the industry) didn’t believe there was a market for educating new investors on how to invest in public cannabis related companies, but I did. So I kept going and began hosting educational workshops around the country.

What eventually happened was I began to attract accredited investors seeking investment opportunities, most of them people of color. They were not looking to invest in public companies at all, but they were looking to invest in private companies in the cannabis space. At the same time, I began attracting entrepreneurs and small to mid-size businesses in the space seeking capital. Most of them are also people of color.

My mission was coming together in a very unexpected way, but I welcomed this change with open arms. MIPR was literally forced to create an online educational program for investors wanting to learn how to invest in public companies. Then we began hosting private investment seminars for accredited investors, entrepreneurs and small to mid-size companies that connected them to each other — and it’s been an amazing turn of events for us. We’re excited.

 

MV: What unique challenges do women and especially women of color face in the cannabis industry?

 

KA: The most common challenge that I’ve found for women of color in the cannabis industry is ourselves! I have experienced and witnessed more backbiting, passive-aggressive behavior, the stealing of each other’s ideals, contacts, contracts and men. It’s totally out of hand and off the-chain! I hear more, ‘I’m the first,’ ‘I’m the only,’ ‘I can do it better’ and ‘No one is doing this or that.’

What we should be hearing a lot of is: ‘How may I help you?’ or ‘What do you need for your business?’ And then we should see people come through with assistance or referrals. Follow-through is important. ‘Let’s come together’ collaboration is needed amongst us women.

Finding the right organization or tribe to assist and support you is critical to your personal growth and development, as well as that of your company’s.

We must learn to speak more positively about one another and understand that we’re all human and no-one is perfect. Sit down and talk to one another when we have issues with each other. It might not be a pleasant situation, and you may even blow up at each other in this process, but it’s definitely better than spreading vicious gossip and rumors. We must learn to collaborate and stop competing at every turn — it’s literally killing us as women, especially women of color. If we don’t stop, it will ultimately take our power away. We must understand that there is enough out there for us all and that we can accomplish more together than we can independent of each other. Finally, we must remember that girls compete, but women empower.

 

MV: What needs to be done to foster more opportunities for women and people of color in the cannabis industry?

 

KA: I can’t tell you what needs to happen to foster more opportunities for women and people of color, but I would like to see more companies and organizations in the cannabis industry working together to collaborate with women and people of color to determine their needs — and not just on what they want to offer us.

In other words, companies and organizations need to listen to the needs of the people and open their eyes up to all communities, especially communities of color. Finally, we create businesses and organizations that will empower and re-educate communities of color and help them position in this industry whether as business owners or as investors.

 

MV: What are your biggest success stories to date?

 

KA: My biggest success story is helping one of my clients build a team of qualified professionals that could help her create a product never before created in the cannabis industry. She needed everything from a food scientist to a packaging expert, and she depended on me to connect her to the right people — so I did. During this process, she was able to raise funds for her new THC-infused coffee, tea and hot chocolate product line. I’m excited for her. Investors should reach out to her, she has great products and one hell of a track record in business.

I’m excited and privileged to have helped to create many success stories, but the ones that I’m most passionate about are my clients who didn’t have the courage at first to come out of the canna-closet. For one reason or another they were afraid to pull the trigger. Some of them were facing various challenges before they hired me and now they have been able to overcome most of their fears and many of them have pulled the trigger in their businesses since. That excites me.

 

MV: Youve mentioned investing in penny stocks in the past. How do you evaluate them? Most people consider those to be highly risky investments. What’s your take on that?

 

KA: When I evaluate a public company, I look at their financials and find out who’s leading the company. What is their professional background? The management team is very important to me. I believe that everything rises and falls on leadership. Do they report? Although penny stocks and/or pink sheets do not require reporting to the SEC, some report anyway, and if they do, I look at how much information they are disclosing and if they report on time. Also, what is their market value? I also read the footnotes because they usually have details there that are not found in the company’s profile or fundamentals.

Most people are right: Penny stocks are highly speculative and high risk because of their lack of liquidity, large bid-ask spreads, small capitalization and limited following and disclosure. Cannabis or (marijuana) stocks are especially risky because we’re still playing in a federally illegal industry, therefore investors are reluctant to invest in or even stay in some of these companies. Also, cannabis-related companies change direction frequently for many reasons and this in itself is risky. Most investors are mainly afraid of being sucked into pump-and-dump schemes, or they are afraid the feds will come in and shut down the cannabis program altogether.

An important thing to be aware of, though, is when you’re talking about buying and holding shares of stock in a good cannabis-related company that has all the right stuff, the right team and the right market value, holding on might not be a bad idea. In my humble opinion, federal legalization is only a few short years away, and when it happens, some of these companies will jump out leading the pack in the industry.

My choice picks this season are bio-fuel, bio-tech and bio-pharmaceutical companies in the space.

 

MV: What are the best ways to generate wealth in the cannabis industry? What areas do you think are safest? What areas should investors avoid?

 

KA: Full disclosure, I am not a broker or a financial advisor, neither am I an attorney. Therefore I cannot give financial nor legal advice. I can, however, tell you what I am focusing on to generate wealth in the cannabis industry and what is the best for me. My current focus is on real estate investments. Real estate is the hottest, heaviest and in my opinion one of the safest investments in the cannabis industry right now. Hard money lenders are killing it, and investors are definitely happy swimming in this pool of ongoing revenues. After real estate would be technology, bio-pharmaceutical, and finally ancillary marketing and advertising type companies that don’t touch the plant.

As an investor, I avoid companies dealing directly with the plant unless they are a CBD-only company. I stay away from companies that are operated by only one person or lacks a qualified management team. I also avoid companies that have no market value, and companies with no skin in the game.

 

MV: Do you have any advice for others interested in getting into this industry?

 

KA: Yes, absolutely. Know exactly what you want to do, have a crystal clear vision of where you’re going, create a plan and then take massive action to make it happen. Don’t let anything or anyone stop your progress, or take you off your path. Stay on your mission.

Recruit team members who are team players — people who will lift you and not compete with you, and people who don’t mind putting a little skin in the game. Observe everything and everyone; don’t give too much information and don’t believe everything people tell you. Do your own research about a company or person for yourself before deciding to do business with them. Get to know them for yourself and don’t judge people or companies based on someone else’s opinion of them. Be yourself and don’t be afraid to reinvent or reevaluate where you are in your life and business every 90 days; and then make the necessary adjustments. Finally, keep going and don’t ever give up.

 

Leah Heise: Persistence and Perseverance

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Leah Heise, the embodiment of grit, takes the reins of the largest women’s group in the cannabis industry

Like so many entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry, Leah Heise discovered the benefits of medical marijuana through her own personal challenges.

Heise had been a highly successful lawyer with the U.S. Coast Guard and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, prior to being diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis.

“At the time, I was told I’d never be able to work again,” Heise says.

Doctors told her there was no cure for pancreatitis, so she would have to focus on long-term pain management. She retired from the federal government and began a high-level opiate regimen, trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy. As she learned to cope with the pain, she eventually returned to work — more out of boredom than a need to prove her naysayers wrong — but it wasn’t until three years ago that her doctors realized her pancreatitis was caused by a birth defect. After years of excruciating, intractable pain, she finally underwent a major surgery and began the process of getting better.

 

Women Grow

In July, Women Grow co-founders Jane West and Jazmin Hupp announced that they were stepping down from day-to-day operations of the organization and that Heise would take over as CEO.

“As we approach Women Grow’s two-year anniversary, we have an incredible opportunity to honor our mission by creating opportunities for diverse leadership in the cannabis industry within our own team,” West said in a press release regarding the leadership change. “Leah Heise is ideally suited to carry our vision forward as the industry evolves.”

According to the press release, West will be focusing on her line of cannabis accessories that bears her name, and Hupp will be “advising female-forward cannabis brands and continuing to advocate for women-owned businesses.”

Heise started attending Women Grow meetings in 2015, after she had shifted her Maryland-based legal practice toward medical cannabis law.

When she accepted the position as CEO, she referred her clients to other attorneys so she could focus all her energy on Women Grow.

“It’s an amazing brand,” Heise says. “It’s very strong.”

But Heise isn’t content to keep everything status quo with the cannabis industry’s largest networking group. Since its inception, Women Grow has relied heavily on relatively independent chapters to uphold its mission. The company doesn’t have a central office; each of the eight national employees work remotely and each chapter hosts a local get-together on the first Thursday of every month. Women Grow generates revenue from memberships, but also splits the revenue taken in by the 44 chapters.

“These women do incredible things every month,” Heise says.

With any startup, operational details often take time to figure out, Heise says. She’ll be taking an in-depth look at the chapter system to see where changes need to be made and how the organization can be stronger as a whole.

“What that will look like in the future? In the next couple months, we’ll be rolling out a new plan to make it more profitable,” she says.

In the long run, Heise hopes to continue to build the organization’s membership, as well as providing some tangible benefits to members such as discounts on hotels, airfare and restaurants — not too different from the “AARP of the cannabis industry,” she says.

Before taking any major steps toward expansion, Heise says she needs to make sure Women Grow has the infrastructure to handle the growth.

“You’re only as strong as your base,” she says. “You’ll implode without that infrastructure.”

 

Maryland

In addition to Women Grow and her legal practice, Heise established Chesapeake Integrated Health Institute, one of more than 1,000 companies to apply for producer, processor and dispensary licenses in Maryland.

The company was not originally selected by the state as one of the initial 15 applicants to get preliminary approval for a grow license, but CIHI is in wait-and-see mode regarding its dispensary application.

With the regulations that have been established, including the lack of a residency requirement for medical cardholders, Heise believes Maryland will have a robust program for both patients and investors.

Maryland received 145 grower, 124 processor and 811 dispensary license applications. The commission is expected to grant 94 dispensary licenses, but perpetual delays have hampered progress.

 

Future

So what is the current state of diversity within the cannabis industry? Dozens of news reports over the past couple years have highlighted the number of women who are prominent figures in marijuana-related businesses, but most people still see cannabis as a boys club.

“I know that in Maryland, when I look at the applications, it’s a good percentage of women, but doubtful it’s 40% — and certainly not any women of color,” Heise says. “That’s a much lower percentage, and I would like to see it be an inclusive environment for anyone to get into. The question is how do you do it.”

Maryland, for example, looked at different ways of taking diversity into account when considering licenses applications. However, the state attorney general shot that concept down.

It’s a complex question without a definitive right answer.

But Heise believes Women Grow can be part of the conversation.

“I really think that Women Grow and the cannabis industry as a whole have an opportunity to create a whole new paradigm for the way corporate America works,” she says. “This is a time in the world where there is just this incredible amount of hate and back-stabbing and lack of positivity. I feel as if Women Grow and the cannabis industry have a unique opportunity to hold people to higher standards and collaborate.”

 

Amanda Reiman: Activism in Action

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Horrified by the negative impact of the War on Drugs, Amanda Reiman used education to fight injustice

More than 10 years ago, Amanda Reiman’s dissertation at the University of California, Berkeley was the first study of its kind, focusing on how medical marijuana dispensaries operate as health care providers.

Now, she’s one of the women behind the scenes of the marijuana legalization movement occurring throughout the country.

Reiman, who has a Ph.D. in social welfare, began researching the War on Drugs and drug policy in the U.S. while studying psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She was appalled by amendments to the Higher Education Act in 1998 that prevented students with drug charges from receiving federal aid for college.

“That’s when I started realizing that a lot of drug laws are very racist and created to control specific groups of people,” Reiman says of her time as an undergrad. “It’s an evolution from seeing individuals that I knew, who had a lot of potential, but because of drug prohibition and the criminalization of drugs, were never able to get what they needed in order to heal themselves.”

It was a turning point to realize that “so much of what we’ve been told about drugs could be a lie,” she says.

More questions flashed through Reiman’s mind. Which is more harmful: marijuana or marijuana prohibition? Can the federal government be trusted to adequately provide drug education programs?

“I decided that policy change is really what needs to happen, and I figured in order to really change policy, I had to become an expert so I had to get a Ph.D.,” she says. “You have to have those capital letters behind your name so people listen to you, right?”

Her 2006 dissertation, “Cannabis Care,” helped launch a new chapter in the developing cannabis industry, but marijuana was still a heavily male-dominated business.

Five years ago, cannabis expos were laden with scantily dressed women, and the marketing language reeked of condescension.

Reiman says women knew they were initially going to be “hyper-sexualized, not taken seriously and given inferior roles.” But it didn’t stop them from starting businesses and quickly becoming a driving force of the cannabis industry.

Reiman, now the manager of marijuana law and policy for the Drug Policy Alliance, has a confidence that’s contagious. She instills a sense of strength in her colleagues. “Amanda is able to strike a rare balance between being professional and not taking herself too seriously,” says Stacia Cosner, deputy director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

“She’s deeply connected to academia while still working for policy change,” Cosner says. “Amanda is a woman I’m proud to know, work with and look up to.”

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