Celebrating the women moving the cannabis industry forward

Apr 19, 2019 Anne Baker

As a consumer of media, you may have noticed something is… happening this weekend. The highest of weed holidays, 4/20, is tomorrow. What is 4/20, exactly? The origins of its significance are up for debate. InkHouse San Francisco General Manager and Bay Area native Dan O’Mahony will proudly tell you 4:20 p.m. was the designated time for a bunch of Marin County teens to take a break to, ahem, consume cannabis in the early 70’s. Others have suggested “420” is a police code for consumption in progress.

Regardless, in 2019, 4/20 has become a day to celebrate and champion cannabis culture. That culture is in a moment of evolution. Cannabis isn’t just for hippies or 20-somethings with a video game habit. It’s a plant whose social, medicinal and wellness values are only just beginning to be discovered. And, increasingly, those pushing the industry forward are women.

This wasn’t an accident. Since the dawn of legal cannabis for adult use, women have been leaders within the industry in a way that other sectors struggle with. As Melissa Ethridge put it at a NCIA forum this fall, “We can be the industry that sets the example for all the other industries,” when it comes to gender equality.

For this 4/20, we’d like to celebrate some of the women in cannabis who inspire us. This is a moment of great transformation for the cannabis industry and we’re excited to see so many women at the helm.

  • Jennifer Lujan, director of social impact, Eaze: Okay, full disclosure time: Eaze is an InkHouse client. And while that makes me biased, it also means I get a front-row seat at some of the amazing things Jen is up to. That includes everything from partnering with The Hood Incubator, which supports cannabis entrepreneurs of color, to expungement clinics to help clear records of cannabis-related offenses, to advocacy for compassionate care policy to make it easier for low-income patients to have access to cannabis. Lujan is an example of what good corporate social responsibility in the cannabis age should look like.
  • Charlotte Palermino, co-founder, Nice Paper: It wasn’t that long ago that the only outlets covering cannabis included “High” or “Marijuana” in their publication titles. They were written by and for a certain demographic of classic stoner. Nice Paper is different. Its co-founder, Charlotte Palermino, was determined to educate readers about the ins and outs of cannabis while presenting it as, well, beautiful. Palermino’s Nice Paper is proof that cannabis, and those consuming it, is just as worthy of the glossy Vogue treatment as anything else.
  • Nidhi Handa, CEO, L E U N E: What should cannabis products look like? Who are they for? Nidhi Handa set out to create a brand that answers those questions with “gorgeous” and “everybody.” L E U N E’s all-in-one vaporizers are super discreet but they’re so pretty you’ll probably want to show them off. They’re also delicious, including natural terpene infusions that deliver notes of berries and tropical fruits. A key factor in the industry’s long-term sustainability will be products that appeal to a wide group of people. #Girlbosses are not super likely to hit the bong after a long day at work. With her lovely, delicious (and potent) products, Handa is leading a new category and making cannabis approachable for anyone.
  • Cat Packer, executive director, L.A.’s Department of Cannabis Regulation: Ask most Americans if they think cannabis should be legalized and they’ll probably say something along the lines of, “Sure...as long as it’s regulated.” But what that regulation looks like is still in question. Enter: Cat Packer. As the chief regulator in Los Angeles (one of the largest cannabis markets in the world), it’s Packer’s job to make sure that the cannabis market is compliant, while also championing its long-term viability. It may seem counter-intuitive, but Packer is as invested in a healthy, legal cannabis market as the people she’s regulating. Read more about her approach in a great Q&A here.
  • Lynn Honderd, Founder and CEO Mary's Medicinals: Please allow me to get personal for a moment. Last year, I had an accident while skiing in Colorado and fractured my spine in four places. Unenthusiastic about taking the pain killers I was prescribed, I turned to Mary’s Medicinals Muscle Freeze cream for relief. It made a huge difference in my recovery and for that, I will always be grateful to Honderd and her amazing company. Honderd has created products that appeal to arthritic grandmas and high-performance athletes alike. Mary’s is the embodiment of the potential of cannabis to provide wellness benefits well beyond “getting high.”

Thank you to all of the many women who are creating positive change within the cannabis industry. If you’d like to learn more about InkHouse and our work in cannabis, please email workwithus@inkhouse.com.

Topics: Cannabis, Industry Leaders, Women
Anne Baker

For Anne, public relations is all about the storytelling. She considers her clients partners on a shared mission to craft the strongest narratives and get those narratives in front of the right people. Anne was the first InkHouse employee in San Francisco and knows all too well the late nights and scrappiness required to get a start-up off the ground. Anne approaches public relations with a strong bias towards execution, doing whatever it takes to get the job done and provide strategic insight. Her clients include some of the most exciting and innovative companies in the U.S. and is leading the effort to grow the agency’s emerging cannabis practice.

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