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The 2016 CBE 50 Most Important Women in the Cannabis Industry (57 Actually!)

When CBE presented its first ranking of the 2014 Most Influential Women in Cannabis 18 months ago—our headline read “Better Start for the Glass Ceiling in this Industry, CBE’s Most Influential Women”. I knew I was taking a chance, as a man, subjectively identifying the 20 women that I felt were most responsible for bringing the industry to where it stood as of November 2014. We launched the list to coincide with the inaugural release of theCBE 100 PPRs and the CBE Political 50 in order to make a splash at the lightening bolt Marijuana Business Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. Looking back, in many ways, this was the industry’s coming out and arrival party.

I met many of the very people represented on those lists at a great coming out party for the industry in the Executive Suite at the conference, which was put on by Women Grow. The mission of Women Grow to mentor and assist their peers in getting their piece of the Green Rush gold was only in the beginning stages of its meteoric rise.

The original list of influential women included seven members of this year’s list, which started as a list of more than 150 women in the industry. It was whittled down by Christine Edmond, CBE’s copy editor and yours truly before we settled on this year’s 50. CBE has written about the success of many of the women on the 2016 list in the past year and a half, and they all have something in common, all have had success prior to entering into the Cannabis Industry and are advocates for an inclusive industry.

Most (if not all) of the members on this year’s list have proven themselves as business leaders either as licensees, ancillary business owners, or through other ventures. To name a few, Meg Sanders, Patricia Rosi-Santucci, Nancy Whiteman and AC Braddock are great examples and role models.

Even the celebrity members of this year’s list, Whoopi Goldberg and Melissa Etheridge, have started cannabis businesses. The lone exceptions include Dr. Sue Sisley, Prime Minister Portia Simpson of Jamaica, Governor Kate Brown of Oregon, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. These four women have had a hand in either improving the footprint of legal cannabis access in the US and Jamaica, or have been instrumental in changing the federal and local ground rules that must be navigated by industry entrepreneurs and leaders.

The 2016 list is composed of 57 women representing the following:

Category Number %
Producer, Processor & Retailer Licensees 31 54.4%
Ancillary Businesses 22 38.6%
Advocacy Groups, State or Federal Governments 4 7.0%
Total 57 100.0%

Since CBE published the first list, Women Grow has seen its membership, online audience, and a number of city chapters grow as their message resonates with female ganjapreneurs nationwide. With over 35 cities generating more than 1,000 attendees to their Signature monthly networking events and 35,000 newsletter subscribers, the for-profit organization founded by Amy Dannemiller (aka Jane West) and Jazmin Hupp (past CEO) is affecting people around the world. This year’s top rated duo are to be congratulated as CBE’s Most Important Women in the Cannabis Industry.

These two women recently passed the torch of building on the organization’s success to Baltimore attorney and new CEO Leah Heise, who has a tough act to follow in continuing  the organization’s rapid rise. Leah will have to build consistency and quality across all events put on by the chapters to  garner additional support from industry leadership like many of the others on this year’s list. She will also  need to charter new chapters in key metro areas nationwide and abroad.

CBE will also be following the founders; including Amy’s new venture, Jane West Enterprises, where she is raising funds to launch a line of cannabis products by and for women, and Jazmin, who has also been recognized by Forbes and Fortune for her industry leadership.

Many of the other members of this year’s list have been recognized on other CBE lists for their company’s performance or for their legislative efforts, and are to be congratulated for making sure that the glass ceiling doesn’t block equal opportunity for all constituencies in the Cannabis Industry!

As always, please let CBE know if we have missed someone and please reach out so we can recognize them too!



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