Jobs For Women of Color in the Cannabis Industry
In the United States, women hold just 21 percent of executive positions at companies, regardless of industry or company size — but according to a recent survey from Marijuana Business Daily, that number jumps to nearly 37 percent for women in the cannabis industry.
The recreational cannabis industry in the US pulls in more than $7 billion each year, and as more states pass laws in favor of the use and sale of cannabis, business- and legal-savvy women entrepreneurs are eyeing opportunities that allow them to participate in the emerging industry while staying true to their longtime passions. The cannabis industry is growing at a rapid rate, and these three entrepreneurs have all found ways to pursue their interests while getting a piece of the green rush.
The Advocate: Shanel Lindsay
Massachusetts attorney-turned-entrepreneur Shanel Lindsay created a cannabis business worth millions in just three years — and she did so without ever selling weed. With her company, Ardent, Lindsay focused on ancillary products and devices designed to help users get the most out of fresh and cured flower.
At the heart of Ardent is the NOVA Decarboxylator, a device that uses a scientific process to properly activate the THC and CBD in marijuana to prepare it for use in everything from food and cooking oils to tinctures and capsules. Cannabis must be decarboxylated over a specific amount of time and with a certain level of heat before it can be added to your favorite brownie recipe, and Lindsay’s company has taken the confusion out of the process.
An active medical marijuana user for years, Lindsay first used cannabis to treat painful ovarian cysts brought on after the birth of her son. “I wasn’t thinking about a cannabis career because there wasn’t a cannabis industry yet,” Lindsay told POPSUGAR about her early days growing and preparing cannabis for her personal use. She’d been making her own medical marijuana for 10 years before she took her medicine to a nearby laboratory and learned that she was wasting 30 to 40 percent of the flower’s THC because she was preparing it incorrectly.
The Entrepreneur: Nidhi Lucky Handa
Nidhi Lucky Handa has always had a desire to follow in her family’s entrepreneurial footsteps, but it wasn’t until she noticed a lack of cannabis products that reflected her lifestyle and appreciation for luxury that she began to form the idea for a business of her own. A Massachusetts native, Handa studied sociology and political science at Columbia University, launched her career in New York, and relocated to Los Angeles to work as a talent agent. As she hit her 30s, she found herself drinking less alcohol and turning to cannabis to unwind, but her interest in cannabis quickly advanced when Californians voted in favor of recreational marijuana in November 2016.
“I’m drawn to new and emerging industries,” Handa told POPSUGAR. She repeatedly found it difficult to shop cannabis brands that aligned with her casual use and affinity for high-end goods. She also noticed brands rarely lasted on dispensary store shelves and was curious as to why they were failing.
“I understood early on the reason why a lot of folks fail in this industry is because they are unable to grasp the regulatory environment and supply chain issues. Issues that are very specific to this industry,” Handa said.
The Epicure: Amanda Jackson
Any chef worth her salt can pair food with fine wine, but personal chef Amanda Jackson wants to challenge more chefs to learn the increasingly popular art of cooking with cannabis.
Born on 4/20 and raised in a small town in Georgia, Jackson grew up going to high-end restaurants, experiences that helped her develop an early appreciation for great customer service. She admittedly struggled in school due to ADHD, and while she studied African American history and music therapy in college, she was kicked out of school because of her low GPA. Bartending and serving jobs helped her buy time, but when a coworker gave her Anthony Bourdain‘s memoir, Kitchen Confidential, she knew she was meant to be in the kitchen.
“I wanted to play in the fire,” Jackson told POPSUGAR. She eventually went to culinary school and landed her first kitchen job making sauces and barbecue side dishes. By 26, she was an executive chef in a Tallahassee restaurant, but with the opportunity to lead a kitchen came sexual harassment from one of her sous chefs. Feeling undervalued in restaurants and in need of a change, she eventually moved to Los Angeles and was immediately drawn to high-profile cannabis chef Andrea Drummer.