By Jessica VerSteeg
In the US, the rapid progression in cannabis legalization has provided new opportunities for ambitious women to get involved and help shape an emerging market that’s now a $7 billion-plus industry, and that figure is fast growing.
As it stands, 29 states have legalized some form of medical cannabis and allow doctors to prescribe it to their patients. Arcview Market Research, in partnership with BDS Analytics, released a report in 2016 which predicted that as more legal markets become active, the entire legal cannabis market will reach $24.5 billion in sales — a 28 percent — annual growth rate) by 2021.
This is already creating an abundance of jobs across the U.S, and there are now hundreds of cannabis products and services available, specifically aimed at women consumers. With the right management and leadership, women now have the power to steer America’s favorite cash crop in the right direction.
Here are three pieces of advice compiled from research and personal experience by hard-working women in the industry that can help others hoping to make a positive contribution.
Stay active in the community and be authentic
As more money floods into the cannabis market, it’s really important for businesses to stay grounded and be authentic among their communities. Many women-led businesses are now adapting their products and services based on genuine feedback from their consumers by creating real conversations and interactive experiences around their brands. This allows for new and existing customers to engage and interact with the brand and one another, online and offline.
Engagement on social media is also important. Sharing user-generated content creates an inclusive and community-led fan base, and frequent commenting and interaction means your followers are always up-to-date, and can rely on you to answer their questions in a direct & accessible way.
Know the facts
In such a rapidly evolving industry, it’s really important to stay up to date with the latest research, insights and facts. For example, a Cannabis Consumers Coalition’s (CCC) report released last year found that more women were consuming marijuana than men, 58 percent to 42 percent. The results were based on a survey of 537 cannabis users from all 50 states, most of whom live in a state with some form of legal cannabis.
The report states, “…the fact that there are more women cannabis consumers than previously thought, shows that women are a force to be reckoned with in the new industry on a multitude of levels.” The report also finds that women cannabis enthusiasts “mirror national trends and statistics in traditional markets, where women make the majority of purchasing decisions, including 80 percent of family health care decisions.”
Consumer reports like these, as well as new research and data on the medicinal properties of cannabis, are essential tools that can add to your skill set and knowledge of the market when making executive decisions. Not only will you be able to understand your market better, but you’ll be well-equipped to tackle debates armed with real-world information and facts to back up your arguments in favor of cannabis legalization.
Be bold and lead by example
Tech entrepreneur and author Seth Godin famously said, “Playing it safe and not taking a risk is probably the most dangerous thing you could do in today’s rapidly changing and highly competitive business environment.”
In the business of cannabis, now is the time to promote a new way of thinking and working in an up-and-coming modern industry full of opportunity. Practicing self-awareness, understanding precisely what you bring to the table and having the confidence to carry it through to the end will ultimately help you navigate the workplace more effectively, and set higher standards for those who follow.
With so many women cannabis consumers, and female-led businesses approaching a new era of change, we need to ensure we are all in this together. Openly sharing ideas, advice and information, and supporting one another in business will help us to establish a long-term global community network.
Jessica VerSteeg has enjoyed a successful career as a fashion and print model for nearly 10 years. During her time as a model she also become Miss Iowa US 2014 andplaced in the top 10 at the Miss United States pageant. After the death of someone close to her due to an overdose of painkillers she decided to dedicate herself to changing the perception of alternative painkillers such as cannabis. She founded AuBox, an upscale medical marijuana delivery service. But the laws and regulations among states and counties are a complex web to deal with, leading the cannabis industry to be fragmented. Jessica wants to help bring back the trust and respect the cannabis industry deserves, so she decided to build PARAGON. Jessica is focused on providing a blockchain platform to allow for improved transparency and compliance the cannabis industry.