As the legal restrictions on marijuana use in the United States are chipped away by new legislation, the market for the plant and related products has become one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. Unlike other rapidly-growing industries like smartphones and software, the cannabis market is poised to become the first billion-dollar industry in the United States dominated by women.

Why women? Why marijuana? Why now?

There are two main reasons why women are attracted to the legal marijuana industry: the lack of barriers to its entry and the changing ways and reasons why Americans use marijuana. Together, these factors create an industry that appears to be custom-tailored to women.

Other rapidly-growing industries, like the tech sector, aren’t really “new.” Although it’s moving in new directions and experiencing rapid innovations today, the technology industry has been around for decades. Personal computers and their software have been a part of American life for more than forty years. When that industry was in its infancy, there were few women writing code and building computers. The guys that were there built relationships and developed the industry’s culture, driving its evolution alongside their own careers. Now, years of being a traditionally-male field have made it difficult for women to push past these invisible boundaries.

Legal cannabis, on the other hand, truly is a new industry. There aren’t decades of barriers and prejudices against women that create hiring disparities and a wage gap. A lack of barriers means women can easily enter this business and build their companies and their reputations as ganjapreneurs.

Cannabis as a Health Product

Women make 80% of the healthcare purchasing decisions in this country. Women are also more likely than men to seek alternative treatment options for their ailments. Products like lotions and bath salts have brought cannabis into the personal care realm, a realm inhabited primarily by women.

“Many women use marijuana differently than men,” said Jane West, co-founder of women-focused trade association Women Grow. “They’re not using it to get high, but for its therapeutic effects. They use it for relaxation, pain management and think of it more as a wellness addition.”

Female business leaders like Jamie Perino of Euflora and Olivia Mannix and Jennifer DeFalco of Cannabrand are taking the lead and creating products that women want. Professional groups like Women Grow provide them with a space to build relationships and develop their careers, furthering the network of motivated, successful women in the cannabis industry.

Women can be found in all areas of the industry – cultivation, design and manufacture of new products, sales; as well as on the other side, government compliance. Gennifer Murray of Cannalabs is in this latter group. In a 2011 interview, she gave her thoughts about female participation in the burgeoning cannabis industry:

“This is a compassionate industry, for the most part, especially if you’re dealing with the medical side. The medical patients need time and consideration, and women are usually the better gender for that. The industry is flat-out geared for women.”

Whether that compassion comes from biology or social conditioning, the fact is that the cannabis industry is providing women with an inclusive, dynamic space to pursue their entrepreneurial goals that they might not find as easily in other industries.

Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey

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