While it’s certainly not as simple as one might believe to obtain success in the heavily regulated legal marijuana industry, it’s a sector that remains accessible to wise entrepreneurs. That is especially true within the state Colorado, which unlike other rising markets does not have a cap on the amount of licenses to cultivate and sell cannabis.
The result is an industry with a variety of business owners, including a significant contingent of women. Data is hard to come by, but anecdotal facts show that it is far more inclusive than tech and many other hot startup fields.

To secure the continued presence of women, people from the marijuana industry in 2014 founded Women Grow, a Denver-based network that currently has 29 chapters across the United States. Women Grow states that about 20 percent of marijuana business owners are females, a number higher than tech but one that still needs work. Co-founders Jane West and Jazmin Hupp tell Inc. that while it’s definitely a task, gender equality is a much more tangible goal in the marijuana industry in contrast to what they face in the tech startup world.

“The entrenched patterns were so entrenched that I don’t think technology will ever be an equal playing field for women,” says Hupp, who founded female-focused tech media brand Women 2.0 15 years ago. “When we started to get into cannabis, we realized the industry was already an equal battlefield from the beginning. We had an enormous number of women already in the industry.”

From software companies to major grow establishments, women are represented in leadership positions in the marijuana industry like people haven’t seen before, Hupp and West say. “Cannabis has more female entrepreneurs because it’s nascent,” says West, who is also the founder of cannabis-friendly events company Edible Events Co. “We’re working with a blank slate. Most of these companies didn’t exist five years ago, so there isn’t a patriarchy and nepotism like other industries.”


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