By Eleanor Alberg | Updated March 25, 2021
They’re asking to do it. The men better let them.* And it’s not like they’re asking permission either. Women in cannabis are stepping into the budding industry and taking charge.
In fact, California’s cannabis czar, in 2016 was a woman — Lori Ajax. She was appointed by then Governor Jerry Brown what would, under her helm, transform into the Bureau of Cannabis Control, BCC.
When Governor Newsom took office in 2019, Ajax was retained. Last December, she announced her retirement from the BCC and since then Assistant Chief Counsel Tamara Colson was appointed to serve as Acting Bureau Chief.
With more women taking the corner office in cannabis and in honor of Women’s History Month, CampNova presents “Mary Jane & The Girls” — a two part series dedicated to women who have given the 21st Century women in cannabis a voice.
“We are here to support and empower everyone, especially women,” said Co-Founder of CampNova Emery Morrison. “We’re doing the work to diversify our teams and create inclusive workplaces for Blacks, Latinos and women too.”
3.5G | $60
Mary Jane & The Girls
Other women, like social media darling, Anjela, affectionately known as Koala Puffs by her followers, have taken on a different canna-mission. Puffs owns her own cannabis line, Koality Cannabis and has over 650 thousand followers on Instagram and millions of views on YouTube.
In 2019, former Disney starlet, Bella Thorne launched cannabis brand, Forbidden Flowers. According to Thorne, her brand was born out of her love for cannabis and desire to empower consumers while aiming to destigmatize cannabis.
“I have struggled with anxiety for many years,” Thorne said. “And weed was the one source I found for me to do the most healing. Because of the properties in weed, I have been able to cope with my anxiety in a natural way, rather than my doctors trying to fix it using prescription drugs.”
Women are making historical contributions and changes to the cannabis industry. In a green industry, the future is pink.
The Leading Ladies of Green
There are few women executives in cannabis now, but Camille Roishtacher is one of them. Roistacher is Co-Founder and CEO of Voyage Distribution and her female-focused flower brand Wyllow.
“I’m proud of just being a woman in the industry and being able to run a distribution company,” Roistacher said. “there’s not a lot of women in distribution. Wyllow is my baby and I’m really proud of that.”
According to Roistacher, there are few women and fewer women of color in the cannabis space.
“I’m usually the only woman in negotiations in meetings,” she said, “and it’s important to have a presence.”
Roistacher notes that the barriers to entry into the industry are very high, and expensive, which makes it tough for anyone to enter and is a contributing factor to why there are not enough women in cannabis.
Roistacher says that her own experience with migraines led to her interest in cannabis as treatment. From her own experience she knew she wanted to help others.
“That led my husband and I to open a dispensary back in 2016, we saw issues in the supply chain, a lot of overpromising and under delivering, we decided to open our own distribution company so we started Voyage Distribution.”
From her experience working with many different brands within her company, Roistacher founded her female-focused flower brand, Wyllow. Presently, Roistacher and her husband are planning to open a new dispensary in Los Angeles to sell Wyllow and promote their brand. While the pandemic has been challenging for starting Wyllow, she says that getting creative with virtual parties and meetings has been fun and exciting.
3.5G | $40
Camille’s Favorite Strain
Roistacher credits her company Voyage Distribution with providing one of her favorite strains, “One of our flagship strains, we have a couple of strains that we will always have in rotation, its Mimosa or Afghan White Gold,” she shared. “We try to stick to those and then the rest of our strains will come in rotation.”
According to Roistacher, the great thing about the strain is that it “is a really fun daytime strain that gives you a little bit of energy, you feel really good, your not too foggy, you don’t want to take a nap, it doesn’t really give you the munchies and you can kind of focus throughout the day”.
Roistacher says, the thing that makes the Voyage mimosa different is that “the people that try our mimosa have tried other mimosas before ours and didn’t like mimosa but like our version of it,” she said. “That’s really special, it’s just a really unique strain that looks beautiful and tastes really fantastic.”
Creating The Space For All
“My greatest accomplishment as a woman in cannabis,” said Larisa Bolivar activist, founder and CEO of Bolivar Hemp Company. “would be getting social equity passed in Colorado in 2020 and helping draft fine sponsorship.”
As it turned out, the Colorado Health Bill 2014-24 helped pave the way to get more women and people of color into the cannabis industry and aid those disproportionately affected by the war on drugs and Bolivar had her hand in that.
719MG THC + 584MG CBD
$59 | 60ml
However, she began her cannabis journey as a recreational user and activist in Colorado. Her personal knowledge of cannabis and the benefits it offers led her to open her first medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado. The Colorado Compassion Club was founded in 2003 first dispensing out of a church and then a storefront in 2005. However, it was raided and destroyed by Colorado police and shut down.
Her experiences in cannabis showed Bolivar the necessity for social equity in the legalization of cannabis. The legalization of cannabis, which she calls “a horribly off mission,” has become more about restrictive revenue generation than proper industry regulation.
Bolivar On Legalization
Legalization, Bolivar said, pushed out local growers and people who have put all of their resources into legalization and instead favors corporate powers seeking monetary gain off the efforts of those fighting for their rights.
“We should use marijuana tax dollars to create grants for people who have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs,” she said.
In addition to her continued work on diversity and social equity within the industry,
Bolivar has been in the industry for over 20 years and is the founder and CEO of the Bolivar Hemp Company.
According to Bolivar, there are nowhere near enough women in the cannabis industry, even less so women of color. She noted, there are more women consumers than men, as it is a great medicine for women, for childbirth and menstruation. There need to be more women in the industry, the health side is a female dominated side anyway.
Woman Make The World Go Round
She stressed that women make more than 80 percent of home purchasing decisions, and the industry should reflect this in its leadership roles by including women in weed. Bolivar felt that at the beginning of legalization there were more women, but as the cannabis industry became more corporatized old market values were put in place, men were put into leadership roles. The industry has become more male dominated and now favors profit over regulation, quality and equity. Despite the difficulty with the corporatization of the cannabis industry, Bolivar speaks fondly of her close peers in the industry and enjoys collaborating with them.
Larisa’s Favorite Strain
When recalling a favorite strain, she notes that back in her earlier years in cannabis, she had a fondness for “Wonderberry,” which was unique to the caregiving cooperative she was a part of. One of her colleagues there was named Joe, and she fondly calls him “Joe Wonderberry” for the strain he helped cultivate.
“Cannabis saved my life,” Bolivar says, “without a doubt.”
*Quote from “Ain’t I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth Delivered at the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio
Apple Slushie Plug
Sign up for our newsletter.