Women Grow is a national organization for mentorship and support for women in the cannabis industry. Despite how revolutionary it is, cannabis is still laden with gender and race issues in a lot of its spaces.
The Leadership Summit provides a safespace to address these problems and to restore spirits of women in the industry through intersectional sisterhood.
If you missed 2019’s conference, we got the lowdown here thanks to Team Peake’s attendees: Tracey, our Executive Vice President; and Alaina, our contracted freelance copywriter.
What is Women Grow?
Women Grow was founded in 2014 in Denver, Colorado. Their mission is to connect, inspire, educate and empower women in the cannabis industry. This a response to the almost inevitable “grass ceiling” that came with the development of this male-dominated, predominantly White market.
Ultimately, the aim is to unite women for mentorship opportunities and to provide support. So that support can take the form of conferences like the Leadership Summit in DC. It also takes the form of local chapters helmed by a market leader for each major city.
Women Grow Leadership Summit 2019
The conference took place in Washington, D.C. at the Washington Hotel, a short distance from the Capitol.
Of course, the summit actualizes the mission of the organization by concentrating emerging leaders and notable voices in the industry in one place for a 2-day weekend. The stand-out women killing it in cannabis took the stage for “Lightning Talks,” “Fireside Sessions” and a variety of panels.
A major theme this year that underlined many talks was the importance of social equity.
Why You Should Care
If you’re developing a cannabis business or just want to connect with other women who can provide mentorship for navigating the industry, it’s your best bet to attend a Women Grow conference.
Though the price was brought down from around $600 to $250 this year, the cost can be pretty steep. But the opportunities to network and also have a safe space for women in the industry is invaluable. This is especially true for women of color: the conference was delightful diverse, even among the speakers.
So if you’re looking for a moral boost and a bridge to higher opportunities in cannabis, it’s worth putting the funds aside to attend
Tracey’s Women Grow Experience
Friday: Social Equity and Great Talks
Tracey enjoyed her experience overall, give or take some hiccups in presentation. The conference was two days—each provided their own experiences.
Friday proved to be the best day of the conference, offering the most engagement and networking opportunities. She enjoyed the “Lightning Talks”—15-20 minute TED-like talks from notable speakers—along with the Fireside Sessions. Networking was especially notable because of the amount of downtime women had to regroup and chat over hoursdevors and booze.
Her favorite speakers were Tanganyika Daniel, Caroline Phillips, and Mary Jane Oatman while her favorite sessions explored the topics of “The Future Is Female” and “What Does Diversity Really Mean?”
The talks centered on social equity: how to right the wrongs of the War on Drugs for those in prison for selling cannabis while the industry continues to expand and flourish.
Saturday: Uncomfortable Legalization Angle and Slowdown
Saturday proved to be less engaging for Tracey. It was accompanied by an unexpected, discomforting topic from an unexpected source: Americans for Safe Access (ASA).
In their panel “From Policy to Prescription,” ASA offered a scarcity mindset for legalization in the form of rescheduling cannabis instead of descheduling. It was one of the less diverse panels with 3 White women and 1 Black woman. And they felt that we shouldn’t push legislators for “too much” or we won’t get anything.
This is essentially counter-argues the value of social equity programs. Which is pretty problematic and disappointing.
Though there were other panels covering topics like cannabis marketing, policy priorities and how to brand edibles, they just didn’t hit home as hard as Friday’s talks
Women Grow: Areas of Improvement
Tracey was overall satisfied with the Women Grow Leadership Summit. But there are key areas of improvement she has in mind for broadening experiences for women in cannabis.
Cost. Though the price was substantially decreased, the conference is still inaccessible for women who don’t have an executive budget to cover the cost of the ticket, hotel expenses and transportation fees.
Presentation criteria. Or lack thereof. There were varying formats for the panels—some allowed Q&As for 30 minutes while others allowed a spit of 5 minutes for the audience to respond. Tracey feels that the talks need a standardized formula for allowing both speaker and audience to come out on top
Intuitive Planning Around the Designated Agenda
Alaina’s approach to conferences is to live them like Ghibli movies. Women Grow had a very tight yet easy-to-follow agenda. But she takes a freeform approach in considering everything around the schedule.
Creative types. They just can’t stick with the program.
With that said, her takeaways are off the beaten path to some degree. She made a concerted effort to get into the group photo in front of the Capitol. Can’t deny the value of clout.
But here’s her path that you can consider when you attend a conference.
The Press Angle: Developing Cohesive, Explorative Stories
Alaina isn’t just one of Maryland’s best cannabis copywriters: she’s also a contributor for Leafly.com. Her attendance was via a press pass, which meant going beyond the panels and creating resonating stories the industry needs.
Namely, she interviewed influential leaders like Mary Pryor, Tanganyika Daniels and Christine De La Rosa about cannabis inaccessibility for communities of color. She also addressed the topic when interviewing Dr. Chanda Macias and Gia Moron, the respective leaders of Women Grow.
We’ll share those articles when they’re published!
Since Alaina runs an online business, the conference was a great opportunity to meet many women she’s known via Twitter and Instagram in-person!
That included going on an offsite adventure with Tracey and Jade Sancho-Duser of RXMaryJade to visit Dr. Macias’s dispensary National Holistic and then for a great, Asian-inspired lunch at Teaism.
It was a prime time to not just network, but to develop closer relationships with peers.
Count on Us as Your Key Rockville Dispensary to Keep You Updated on Major Industry Events
We love attending conferences and hope that they become more accessible for all patients and industry employees and rising talent in cannabis. It’s worth noting that the cost of the conferences comes out of pocket for creators: Prohibition prevents them from taking out loans.
So as we wait for the Feds to expand banking rights for cannabis companies, save what you can and keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities.
If we don’t see you at the next major DMV conference, don’t worry: we’ll cover the key points here.