International Women’s Day invites us to celebrate women’s achievement, and there are shining examples aplenty in the activists and leaders of the CBD industry.
Look back a mere eight years to 2013 to the origins of CBD’s meteoric rise to find CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary Weed that told powerful anecdotal tales of CBD’s efficacy. The focus of the documentary was Charlotte Figi, a young Colorado girl who had Dravet’s Syndrome, a form of intractable epilepsy.
Charlotte had her first seizure at three months old and sometimes had as many as 300 grand mal seizures a week. As Charlotte’s mother Paige watched her daughter not being able to speak or walk because of the condition and the side effects of her pharmaceutical regimen, she knew there must be a better and more effective way to treat her daughter.
It was Paige who found the Stanley Brothers (Realm of Caring) and “Hippie’s Disappointment,” a low-THC strain that dramatically reduced her daughter’s seizures. The strain was later renamed Charlotte’s Web after the little girl, who died in April 2020 at the age of 13.
While Paige’s battle for her daughter is likely the most well-known, she is but one tale of mothers battling with lawmakers for access to medical cannabis so their children can have a better quality of life. These scattered groups, collectively referred to as the “Mommy Lobby” paved the way for the only FDA-approved CBD-derived medicine, Epidiolex for the treatment of severe epilepsies Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet’s syndrome.
While the cannabis industry has done somewhat better in female representation than mainstream industry, in 2019 women in the industry still held only 36.8 percent of senior leadership roles, compared to the U.S. average of 21 percent. While there is still a long way to go in senior leadership representation, it is clear nonetheless that women have been leading the way on CBD legalization, consumption, and other purchases.
Throughout industries, women have repeatedly demonstrated that their leadership skills are critical to increasing productivity, decreasing employee burnout, and enhancing collaboration. The CBD industry is still relatively young, presenting it with a unique opportunity to shape an industry that can be more inclusive, thoughtful, and successful. Leaf Report reached out to some female-led companies blazing new trails in the CBD space to hear their thoughts about how women can continue to shape the CBD space.
At Her Highness, co-CEO’s and co-founders Laura Eisman and Allison Krongard are committed to selling CBD and THC products designed for and inspired and engineered by women to work harmoniously with a woman’s body. Eisman acknowledges that the cannabis industry has not been as wide open for female leadership as many had hoped, but the ladies of Her Highness are determined to shatter the cannabis glass ceiling. “Women are underserved in the cannabis industry, [but they] are having an empowering moment, taking a stance that their wellbeing is crucial. As we discover the benefits CBD holds for us, we are highly motivated to be a force in the industry.”
Kronman points out that CBD has been and continues to play a key role in the mainstream acceptance of the cannabis plant. “It’s big business,” she said. “Women absolutely need to be a part of it, helping to shape the face of this emerging industry and working to make sure there’s space for other women coming in after us.”
Perhaps you’ve heard of the old marketing trope “pink it and shrink it” which suggests that selling products to women not designed for them – imagine a razor that’s been designed for men – is to simply make it pink (give the product a feminine color) and shrink it (literally make it smaller so it’s easier for women to handle), while never addressing the difference between a razor designed to shave a man’s face and one to shave a woman’s legs. Far from this outdated idea, Kronman believes that female CBD consumers appreciate products made for women because they are made for them. “Cannabis has many healing benefits for women,” she added. “We need to not just be a part of the growing conversation, we should be a driving force behind it.”
At Goodekind, co-founders Kayla Croft and Flip Croft-Caderao are committed to not only providing consciously-sourced and organic hemp-derived CBD products to consumers, they dedicate an eighth of their profits to human rights initiatives in the U.S. Croft admits that historically, female leadership has been largely missing from the American workforce writ large and that it’s no better in the cannabis industry, where women still lag behind men in executive, founder, and leadership roles.
But she quickly points to how women in cannabis leadership can lift up more than the female demographic. “Within our particular industry, female leadership can only benefit all aspects, from brands to manufacturers to retail, since women use cannabis products at almost the same rate as males,” she told Leaf Report. “With an accurate leadership representation, all brands and manufacturers can have access to substantial opinions, ideas, and rules that represent the same demographic of its consumers.”
As you consider which CBD companies are worthy of your hard-earned dollars, here are a few other quality companies to check out:
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