California-based cannabis company Bloom Farms announced that half of its marijuana suppliers will be women-owned or operated businesses by the end of 2020.
The push by the company for gender equality comes as the marijuana industry continues to expand rapidly across the country. Although it started as an industry with a high percentage of female entrepreneurs and executives – about 36% in 2015 – that number fell to 27% in 2017, according to Marijuana Business Daily.
Bloom Farms CEO Michael Ray said in a news release that it’s not too late to make that number go back up. “We have an incredible opportunity to build an industry from the ground up that welcomes and supports all participants and doesn’t carry forward the long-established prejudices of other industries,”
Women Marijuana Executives
Bloom Farms is currently in the process of finding female-led cannabis farms in California. Eventually, it will expand this program to its operations in Nevada and other states as the company moves into new markets.
The move comes as gender equality becomes a bigger issue in the marijuana industry. Massachusetts, which began recreational marijuana sales in November, has commissioned a study on gender equality in the marijuana industry.
The state also has a social equity program that is designed to eliminate barriers to enter the cannabis industry for minorities and those who live in communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.
For women, the number of top positions in the industry has fallen in the last two years. However, the Marijuana Business Daily numbers showed that women still make up 27% of marijuana industry executives, higher than the 23% in all other industries.
Social Justice and Gender Equality
The move by Bloom Farms is the latest in a number of programs around the country that promote women entering the cannabis industry.
One of the best-known is Women Grow, a Denver-based organization that promotes and supports women entrepreneurs in the cannabis business. Women Grow offers educational symposiums on the latest government and industry regulations, events featuring speakers from the cannabis industry and social events that offer the chance to connect with other women in the industry.
In Illinois, where medical marijuana is legal, the Illinois Women in Cannabis organization supports women with an interest in working professionally in the growing industry. The organization notes that professionals are needed in a variety of areas beyond cultivation and running a dispensary. They include:
In the news release from Bloom Farms, the company’s President of Distribution, SallyAnn Nichols, said the cannabis industry has the chance to be a “transformative force in many aspects of society.”
She added that the initiative by Bloom Farms is “an important step in the right direction and establishes a path for other companies to follow.”