I was raised by a single mom who instilled in me the idea that knowledge is cumulative – like a tower of many stones stacked on top of each other – and that there is something to be learned from every experience no matter how heavy it might be to carry. Today is International Women’s Day, and March is Women’s History Month. This year, I’m creating space for voices from the cannabis and psychedelic diaspora to express appreciation for the women in our community, and to pay respect to those who are no longer with us but whose contributions live on – whose stones are the ones we lay ours upon.
Sara Rotman, CEO and Founder of Wellfounded Botanicals
Founded by farmer and former luxury brand builder Sara Rotman, after experiencing a life-threatening battle with Crohn’s disease, Wellfounded Botanicals is a new woman and Latinx-owned cannabis brand dedicated to promoting plant-based wellness.
“The success of the Wellfounded brand and Busy Bee’s Organics cannabis farm in which we grow our products rests entirely on the shoulders of the women at Wellfounded. We don’t hire or assign team members because of their gender, but it just so happens that we’ve found the best people in the business, and they happen to be women. They have taught me so much about grace, perseverance, and how to thrive in a world which can be unfavorable to women. I’m particularly proud of my legal team, Susan Petrovich and Amy Steinfeld, as well as our Chief Compliance Officer Carmela Beck and our EVP, Director of Brand, Kimberly Brower. I’m lucky to be surrounded by women who inspire and support me and the Wellfounded brand – they remind me to maintain my integrity and commitment, agnostic of my gender.”
Steven Jung, Chief Operating Officer of PAX
Before joining leading cannabis brand PAX, Steven Jung served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Weedmaps, the leading tech company serving the cannabis
industry. Jung brings an extensive career in operations, and began his career in operations leadership as a Captain in the United States Army where he held both strategic and tactical roles.
“I’m inspired by Stephanie Shepard who, after being incarcerated for cannabis, is now helping others find freedom and reentry support through Last Prisoner Project. Our country’s approach to drug policy has caused irreparable and disparate harm — no one should be in prison because of this plant. I’m incredibly grateful to Stephanie, and others like her, who are sharing their stories and doing this mission critical work to address decades of injustice and create opportunities for people in cannabis.”
TaJanna Mallory, CEO of CannAssistants
Founded by TaJanna Mallory, CannAssistants is a virtual assistant agency that provides administrative support to mid-size cannabis companies, founders, and
business executives. At the core of her work, Mallory believes the foundation of every strong organization is a steady and seamless support staff that excels in daily operations and exceeds client expectations.
“I’ve been fascinated by the resilience that I’ve seen among women, especially in the past two years. In the cannabis industry, there’s always going to be a fight until prohibition ends. I’ve watched women in this industry like Amber Senter and Chaney Turner, continue the fight for the greater cannabis community while still running their own businesses. “Pivot” is a word that has been exhausted since the pandemic. More than a pivot, I’ve witnessed women find new and creative ways to crush their obstacles while continuing to fight for the things they are passionate about.”
Susie Plascencia, Brand Partner at Humo
A Spanish word for smoke, humo is the unmistakable result of cannabis when ignited. Humo Brand Partner, entrepreneur and cannabis advocate Susie Plascencia leads the pioneering, Mexican American owned craft cannabis company’s commitment to providing meaningful representation in an industry that has caused disproportionate harm to Latino communities. Plascencia is especially passionate about Latina representation in the cannabis industry.
“Women’s History Month is especially important in the cannabis industry because it’s a time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions of those who are often underrepresented in positions of professional leadership. As a woman led company, Humo is so proud to align with queer and Chicana led nonprofit, The Social Impact Center. We understand that repairing the harm caused to communities by the War on Drugs begins with meaningful action and by supporting their transformative programs and criminal record expungement clinics, we know we’re doing our part to foster a more equitable industry while supporting women in cannabis. I’m also personally a supporter of the great work of Women Grow, Supernova Women and Latinas in Cannabis, a nationally recognized online community I founded after seeing a need for Latina representation and empowerment in cannabis.”
Jeffrey D. Welsh, Partner, Vicente Sederberg, LLP
Jeffrey Welsh is a partner at Vicente Sederberg LLP where he focuses his practice on advising companies, brands, entertainment and media properties, other law firms, and investors on how to navigate the California cannabis marketplace.
“I’ve been incredibly blessed to have many inspiring female mentors throughout the course of my life, starting with my Mom, who instilled work ethic, drive, and unconditional love into the fabric of my being. My team at Vicente Sederberg is comprised of many thought leaders who I work with on a daily basis, including Cassia Furman, Shawn Hauser, Sahar Ayinehsazian, Andrea Golan, and Emily Hackman, to name a few! Throughout the industry at large, I am incredibly thankful to be colleagues and friends with Zoe Wilder, a tireless advocate for the plant and a tremendous ambassador to our industry. I am so thankful for all of the incredible women in my life! Love you, Mom!”
Angela White, Equity for Industry Program Manager at Success Centers
Success Centers’ Angela White focuses on developing sustainable career and entrepreneurial paths previously less accessible to communities impacted by inequality and the War on Drugs.
“It’s always an honor for me to acknowledge all of the super sisters in cannabis who volunteer their time and talents to the equity community, and have made this work possible for the Equity for Industry Program. Our mission is to empower marginalized community members through education, employment and art programs, so they may develop a positive self-image as well as a sense of hope and purpose for their future. Grateful to all of the women in the industry who have helped us with this important mission! Shout out to Jessica Strange, Marie Montmarquet, Tiffany McBride, Alisha Johnson, Jasmine Hall, Liz Gehl, Dale Sky Jones, Summer Jenkins, Julia Jacobson, Reese Benton, Cindy De La Vega, Nicole Howell Esq, Rhiannon Woo and Merril Gilbert, Suzy Jones, Jennifer Lujan, Christina DaPaci, Hannah Stitt, Esq, and Paige Penbrook Esq. There are many more of you that may not be on this list but you are all deeply respected and appreciated.”
Shelby Hartman, Co-Founder & CEO of DoubleBlind
Journalist Shelby Hartman was meditating when she had a vision to start a magazine focused on psychedelics. A media company and education platform at the forefront of the rapidly growing psychedelic movement, DoubleBlind reports on some of the most important issues of our time all presented in visually compelling, rigorous long-form features, poetry, art, and photo essays.
“Much like in other industries, for decades, men in psychedelics have been platformed disproportionately, relative to women. I, by no means, want to diminish the incredible contributions that men have made to the psychedelic field, but, alongside them, there have often been women who have simply gotten less acclaim. Women such as Kathleen Harrison, Ann Shulgin, Bia Labate, and Amanda Feilding, not to mention the countless women, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who have been holding space for others to heal for generations. I’m excited to see that changing, as well as to see all of the incredibly inspiring women who have begun to work in psychedelics in more recent decades: Natalie Ginsberg, Liana Gillooly, Lauren Taus, Charlotte James, Melissa Lavasani, my dear cofounder Madison Margolin…I’m almost reluctant to name names, because there’s so many more, too many to name. I’m hopeful that this growing devotion to platforming women in psychedelics is a part of a larger movement towards inclusivity within the field, including making sure psychedelic businesses are prioritizing equity and access as well as Indigenous reciprocity. I do believe that if any industry is poised to reimagine what equitable and inclusive businesses look like, it’s the psychedelic industry.”