Illinois group: Women have prime opportunity in marijuana industry

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A group of Illinois women believe female entrepreneurs have a good chance of succeeding in the cannabis space because they’re not hindered by the old-boy networks that dominate other industries.

Dina Rollman, a Chicago attorney and co-founder of Illinois Women in Cannabis, told the Chicago Sun-Times women aren’t “playing catch-up” to men in the marijuana industry because it’s so new. Instead, they’re “leading the industry, shoulder-to-shoulder with men.”

Women have had a hard time being seen as equals in several industries (a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report in April showed women make 78 cents for every dollar a man makes), a fate many hope they won’t face in the cannabis industry.

Indeed, some of the most successful companies in the industry are owned by women. Inc. Magazine this month highlighted CannLabs founder Gennifer Murray, Euflora owner Jamie Perino and Live Green Cannabis and Patients Choice founder Brooke Gehring as women who are dominating the cannabis space.

Still, women may have a problem making inroads into the legal marijuana industry since men dominated the black market, Rollman said.

And because of the stigma surrounding cannabis, some women – especially those who have children – may not want people to know they work in the marijuana industry, she said. As more enter the industry, the more comfortable they’ll become, she told the Sun-Times.

Women in the industry have connected through groups like Illinois Women in Cannabis. Denver-based Women Grow was created in 2014. The group hosted a leadership summit in May and had networking events in several states earlier this month.