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As the industry expands with legalization in additional states, and potentially at the federal level, women will come to play an even larger role in the industry, as leaders and consumers. Women make 80% of health and wellness decisions for U.S. households, which will have a huge impact on the medical and recreational cannabis market in years to come. Today, women in the cannabis industry are creating and influencing products — such as cannabis-infused balms and edibles for hot flashes, migraines and pregnancy-related muscle pains — and molding corporate culture to be female-friendly from the ground up.
I sat down with Barbara Goodstein to get her take on additional reasons why women should be looking to join the cannabis industry. Goodstein is a member of the board of directors at KushCo, and former CEO and president of Tiger 21 Holdings. She was also chief marketing officer at Vonage, and has more than 27 years of marketing and profit and loss management experience, including senior leadership roles at AXA Equitable, JPMorgan Chase and Instinet.com.
Nick Kovacevich: You have a background in traditional corporate America. What drew you to cannabis, which obviously is not a traditional industry?
Barbara Goodstein: Cannabis is a unique, high-growth industry. I liken it to alcohol before Prohibition: The runway is huge and the demand is there. For example, KushCo Holdings revenue went up 177% year over year, and that was on top of 129% growth the previous year. The potential for well-run businesses is enormous. The upside potential and growth opportunity is reminiscent of the late 90s, when the internet was just ramping up. The more I learned, the more interested I became.
NK: What do you see as the main requirements for success in cannabis?
BG: The regulations are moving at such a fast pace. Change is happening so quickly. I think a requirement for success in this space is to be in touch with the changing regulatory landscape. A successful company must understand legal restrictions, and identify how to grow — not in spite of those restrictions, but alongside them.
NK: What is the main draw for women in cannabis?
BG: Cannabis is a level playing field — everyone has the same opportunity. It’s a young industry, run by young people. There are no barriers for women here. There’s no reason women can’t be successful.
NK: That must mean cannabis has improved on traditional corporate culture?
BG: It’s nothing like the big, old-fashioned corporate type. Women have opportunities here because there is no established “right” way to be successful. There’s no glass ceiling, because there is no ceiling at all.
NK: Is there anything holding women back?
BG: There is still some stigma associated with cannabis, and there are questions about legal and regulatory issues. But any boundaries are self-created. Cannabis simply is not the risky business it was once perceived to be.
NK: Can you explain what you mean?
BG: Sure. Cannabis is a new industry, and it takes courage to join an industry in the process of developing. But it’s a young, modern, progressive space. It’s a welcoming industry to anyone who wants to get in. People in this space are pioneers, and women have always been leaders forging new paths.
NK: Any advice for women — or men — looking to get into the industry?
BG: The traditional routes don’t exist yet. Many business schools aren’t even letting recruiters on campus at this point. But there are lots of jobs and lots of opportunities. I suggest approaching the companies on your own. Write to them directly, look at LinkedIn. The jobs are there. Many future careers will be built here.
NK: Where do you see cannabis headed?
BG: Cannabis is on the way to being legitimized. But it’s not there yet. I talked to [business grad students] and they wanted to form a cannabis club for anyone interested in the space. But the school wouldn’t let them. That suggests that there is still time for more courageous people to jump into the space. But you have to be able to weather the temporary risk. Cannabis needs people who have the confidence to look beyond the irrational regulations now in place.
As cannabis continues to grow, and eventually moves into the mainstream marketplace, it is incumbent on today’s pioneers to continue leading by example with inclusive hiring. Cannabis must demonstrate a strong commitment to seeding the industry, from the top down, with a highly qualified, highly diverse workforce that will allow it to flourish now and into the future.
December 17, 2018 at 06:38AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs