Luna Stower, freelance writer and cannabis educator, is HelloMD's newest guest blogger. She recently attended the Women Grow Leadership Summit in Denver in early February. Below Luna shares her experience, highlighting the growing influence women have within the burgeoning cannabis industry.
“YOU ARE HERE.”
The bold-red message was clear: Woman, you are welcome. Overcome with a sense of belonging, I felt included and valued for the first time at an industry event - not a dismissed side-thought. And I wasn’t alone.
Dressed in dazzling reds, 1,400 Women Grow Leadership Summit attendees poured excitedly into downtown Denver’s historic Ellie Caulkins Opera House, ready for the rapid-fire inspiration of lightning talks by prestigious keynotes. Despite frigid weather, the vibrant buzz of professionals from across the continent created a special warmth.
Enter Women Grow (Not Your Average Stoner-Chicks)
Despite men’s overwhelming dominance in the workforce, women are highlighted as the fuel behind the blossoming Cannabis sector in headlines and covers of Newsweek, the Economist, TIME and National Geographic. The networking group of female-identified cannabis entrepreneurs has grown to 1,100+ male and female members in 35 chapter-cities in just two years, with reports projecting 2016 legal Cannabis sales to grow 25% ($6.7 billion), giving women room to grow.
Ladies of all ages and backgrounds shared peace-pipes, struggles and dreams, becoming insta-family over vapor and belly-laughs. From interviews on the Drug War and card-swapping to intimate chats, it became clear that conscious Cannabis capitalism was proof that leading with love can be quite lucrative.
The (en)Lightning talks
Investors, social media gurus, battle-worn policy activists, nurses and pet-patient advocates addressed our deep inner fears of failure. Women are emboldened by race and gender oppression, the brazen babes’ insightful humor, profound messaging, and shameless audacity were a call to action - and for self-love.
Cancer-survivor and rock legend Melissa Etheridge gushed, “Can you believe you’re in a room this big with other women who do the herb?!” Comparing medicinal freedom to GLBTQ rights, Cannabis was her saving grace from painful chemotherapy treatments and doctors’ fear-mongering.
Betty Aldworth exclaimed: “Be your own f*****g Trophy Wife! Say ‘yes!’ Set aside fear, and jump with voracity… Take one more shot at the revolution. What’s terrifying is to not matter as much as you can in this life. So I said ‘YES.’ And got to shape national discourse... despite crippling doubt and fear.”
Cannamoms founder Moriah Barnhart shared her daughter’s excruciating journey from toxic Chemo treatments to recovery with Hash oil. Dressed as Wonder Woman, Jeanne Sullivan demanded we “stop being afraid to ASK!”
Maureen MacNamara urged: “The world’s thirsty for your wisdom, knowledge and ingenious ideas. With negative thoughts, the world - and this industry - loses. If we sit on our brilliance, the patient doesn’t win. The time is now for your ideas to flourish… So get the hell out of your own way.”
“The only difference between ILLNESS and WELLNESS is an ‘I’ and a ‘WE’”
Positive, wise words replaced negative, hard-wired insecurities with self-love. Whether ‘coming-out’ to our community or cultivating our powerful skills, we’re only living integrated lives when we harmonize our dynamic selves with the work we do.
In this empowered state we can, and will, be the high-integrity leaders of this Billion-dollar industry -- stewarding, respectfully, with the divine, fruitful, feminine energy this plant has held for millennia.