By Rene Ray De La Cruz Daily Press, Victorville, Calif.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Over the last three years, the number of female-run businesses in the Cannabis industry has risen to nearly 40 percent, about 15 percent higher than the national average for all U.S. businesses, according to Chemical & Engineering News.
Businesswoman Arleen Curiel Casas is one of many female entrepreneurs helping to change the face of the growing cannabis industry.
Casas, 37, is the co-owner and president of the recently opened Medical Cannabis Educational Center, the first legal non-storefront medical cannabis delivery business located in Hesperia's "green zone."
"Being the first to open in the green zone was a total team effort by the entire MCEC staff," said Casas, a communications major and graduate from California State University, Northridge. "We opened after we studied the market and understood the needs of those who need medical cannabis."
Casas is one of many female trailblazers who've opened cannabis-based businesses in states where the plant has been legalized. She's also part of a growing percentage of women holding upper-level positions in the cannabis industry. Over the last three years, the number of female-run businesses in the industry has risen to nearly 40 percent, about 15 percent higher than the national average for all U.S. businesses, according to Chemical & Engineering News.
"The wave of women business owners are leading the charge in the cannabis world because it allows them the opportunity to nurture and care for people, while allowing them to spread their entrepreneurial wings," said Casas.
Her business delivers cannabis-based products from a 3,000-square-foot facility to people in the High Desert and throughout Southern California.
"Women who live the cannabis lifestyle, both medicinally and recreationally, understand the benefits of this plant," said Casas, who opened the business with her husband, Rick. "We have the same amount of knowledge as men do when it comes to responsible use and healing benefits. My belief is that by women having an innate and nurturing approach, it's bringing in a new wave of women who have always wanted to lead by example."
The MCEC facility includes a call center, a state-of-the-art security system, 24 surveillance cameras, GPS driver/product tracking map, computer data center and fulfillment area.
One of Casas' goals is to end the stigma surrounding medical cannabis by emphasizing the "wellness and the holistic aspects" of medical cannabis.
To promote the medicinal benefits of cannabis, Casas and her MCEC team will host the inaugural "Cannabis Education Day" on Feb. 23 at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Hesperia.
As the cannabis industry continues to grow, women will become leaders in making cannabis use more "respectable and mainstream," she said.
Female entrepreneurs across the country are opening businesses that offer CDB, pipes, edibles, oils, concentrates, topicals, and body care products. Others have started up cultivation farms, dispensaries, salons, bakeries, coffee shops and have offered event planning and accounting services.
"There are so many opportunities in this industry," Casas said. "If people aren't into smoking, they can bake cookies, create oils or even offer consulting services."
Attorney Pamela Epstein, who has spoken to the Hesperia City Council on cannabis legalization and to community leaders across the nation, told the Daily Press it's "empowering to see women taking leadership roles in cannabis."
Women make 80 percent of the decisions in households, including whether to use or invest in cannabis, she said. "Women are finding not only a voice in the industry but a seat at the head of the table."
The managing partner at Green Wise Legal and CEO at Green Wise Consulting, Epstein said cannabis is "rooted in compassion" and presents an opportunity to "fuse together passion, advocacy business a natural vehicle to empower women to step into leadership roles."
"As a nascent industry, there are no preconceived notions or roles, which has led to diversity," said Epstein, who lives in Los Angeles. "I, for one, am grateful to cannabis and the community for embracing new voices."
Businesswoman Kasha Herrington, 53, who's been in the cannabis industry for more than eight years and recently opened her Rehab Delivery business in the city's green zone, said she understands why women are influencing the cannabis industry.
Women possess inherent attributes that give them an edge in the cannabis world, she said. Men "only see dollars signs and the psychoactive effects of cannabis," Herrington said.
"Women are heading up the charge in the cannabis industry because of nurture and nature," Herrington said. "Women are more nurturing by nature, which is perfect for an industry that offers relief for so many people.
After walking away from a nearly 30-year career in the insurance industry, Herrington began using medical cannabis after a car accident placed her on a steady regimen of painkillers.
"After the painkillers stopped working, I started used medical cannabis and it worked wonders," Herrington said. "That's when I started moving toward opening a medical cannabis delivery service."
Although her parents were initially disappointed by Herrington's use of cannabis, her father began using the plant himself after Loma Linda University Hospital "sent him home to die with liver cancer," she said.
"He started using Rick Simpson Oil at 84 years old and a year later he was cancer-free," Herrington said. "He's still cancer-free and he'll turn 90 in March. Now you know the passion behind what I do."
"It doesn't matter if you are male or female. We both share the same passion and we root for each other," Casas said. "I have experienced this firsthand working with both my brother and my husband. They have been my biggest advocates and although it has been an incredibly long journey, it turned out as I expected."