Today, cannabis is big business.
The industry is making $12 billion nationally and $16.9 billion internationally. And as legalization continues to spread throughout the United States, women business owners are finding creative ways to break into the working weed world.
Below, we’re taking a look at 9 female founders who are making the biggest, most interesting splashes in the dynamic and rapidly growing “cannabiz” industry.
[Related: Megan Rapinoe Joins Sister’s Cannabis Startup]
Scroll on to find out how these cannabis business owners turned their dreams and passions into startup successes.
1. Cynthia Salarizadeh and Tracey Mason
Co-founders, House of Saka, Inc.
This duo created what they call “the world’s most advanced line of luxury, cannabis-infused products made by and for women.” Salarizadeh, who came into the venture with years of experience in the cannabis world, and Mason, who had worked in the wine industry, teamed up to make wines infused with weed using nanotechnology. In 2019, it was named one of the Top Infused Beverages at the Emerald Cup.
2. Erin Gore
Founder and CEO, Garden Society
Garden Society is another cannabis company launched by women, for women. Gore’s venture is for the “canna-curious” who want to try edibles without becoming overwhelmed. Their chocolates, gelatin snacks and more offer customers varieties that can reportedly either boost moods, ease stress or promote rest. It’s garnered press attention from industry publications like Cannabis Business Times, as well as mainstream sites like Forbes.
3. Debra Borchardt
Co-founder and CEO, Green Market Report
The publication was launched by Borchardt, with help from House of Saka’s Salarizadeh, to offer business, finance and economic news pertaining specifically to the cannabis industry. Borchardt, a former Wall Street executive and financial journalist, says the aim of the Green Market Report is to be the “CNBC of cannabis.”
4. Amanda Ostrowitz
Navigating the shifting legal landscape as a cannabis user or entrepreneur is tough — Ostrowitz, a specialist in cannabis regulations and banking law, makes the process that much easier with her online database. Users can get specific information on commercial real estate laws, advocacy opportunities, local legal professionals and more. And it’s all thanks to a former bank examiner from the Denver branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
[Related: Meet a Woman Criminal Defense Attorney for the Cannabis Industry]
5. Emily Paxhia
Co-founder and managing partner, Poseidon Asset Management
This investment firm presently manages over $105 million in assets, according to its website. Since launching in 2013 with her brother, Paxhia and her firm have doled out cash to cannabis ventures like GW Pharmaceuticals, Flow Kana and Greenlane. Its high-performing portfolio has garnered Poseidon numerous awards from Barclay Hedge and the Global Business Insight Awards.
6. Constance Finley
Founder, Constance Therapeutics
Inspired by her struggles with chronic illness — and the reportedly devastating effects of traditional pain medication on Finley’s body and mind — her venture sells extracts and vaporizers to help others like her manage their symptoms using cannabis. Before starting up, Finley was a clinical psychologist and social entrepreneur who launched a firm that secures housing for low-income families.
7. Molly Peckler
Founder, Highly Devoted
A marijuana matchmaker? It’s high time, weed enthusiasts are saying. Peckler’s firm connects cannabis enthusiasts to one another through offline-only matchmaking services, while also offering a multimedia platform for sharing cannabis news and stories. Highly Devoted hosts meet-ups and other events for its members as well.
8. Wanda James
Founder, Simply Pure
James is the first African-American woman to own a dispensary. Her Denver venture sells both small-batch flower products, as well as CBD-infused tinctures, creams and more. James’ success has landed her on lists like High Times’ 100 Most Influential People in Cannabis in 2018. And she, too, has been an expert voice on networks like CBS, MSNBC and the BBC, as well as in publications like The Atlantic.
[Related: Women Are Getting Shut Out of the $12.2 Billion Cannabis Industry. Here’s Why]