Lilach Mazor Power wants to see more women in the local cannabis industry.
“I see all these opportunities in my industry and I see women not grabbing them,” she said.
Power is the founder and CEO of the Giving Tree Dispensary, a vertically-integrated company that does cultivation, extraction, manufacturing, packaging, logistics, wholesale and retail.
The Giving Tree Dispensary in Phoenix is the only majority woman-owned cannabis dispensary in Arizona. Power, who is Jewish and grew up in Israel, spoke with local members of the National Association of Women Business Owners on Wednesday, Nov. 10, about her industry and where women fit in.
In 2019, women held 37% of cannabis C-suite positions, substantially more than in other industries, according to Marijuana Business Daily. But a 2021 report by the National Cannabis Industry Association and The Arcview Group found that only 8% of cannabis CEOs are women.
“The number of women in leadership and ownership in the cannabis industry is declining,” Power said. “And in 2021, with a completely new industry, it’s very discouraging.”
At the same time, the number of women using cannabis is rising. According to CBD and cannabis-focused market research company the Brightfield Group, the proportion of female cannabis users rose steadily during 2020, reaching 51% in the first quarter of this year.
Power sees it all unfolding firsthand.
“Our brands are more focused on women, but we do see more women are interested and are coming in to ask questions,” she said.
Arizonans voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2010, with the first medical marijuana sales starting in Dec. 2012. Recreational cannabis was legalized in November, and sales began in January.
With legalized recreational use relatively new, there are still some misconceptions and stigmas attached.
“A lot of people don’t understand the different ways to consume cannabis,” she said. “We all have that stigma in our head of someone smoking a joint, and passing it around to a bunch of stoners.”
Many of Power’s customers are moms who use capsules, she said.
“When you say, ‘cannabis,’ people raise an eyebrow, but when you say, ‘Hey, I’m going to have a couple of glasses of wine,’ that’s OK,” Powers said. “I’m really trying to educate women on the different ways to use and consume it. We now have a cannabis-for-menopause line.”
Despite the growing curiosity and acceptance on behalf of women cannabis users, Powers still sees hesitancy among women to enter the business side. When she approaches women about working in the industry, sometimes they’ll express concern about having a cannabis experience listed on their resume, or they’ll express concern about the stability of the industry, she said, given all marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.
“There is a lot of risk, but with that comes a lot of opportunity, so it depends on how you look at it,” she said. “I see it more as an opportunity.”
“There is a lot of risk--but with that comes a lot of opportunity, so it depends on how you look at it,” she said. “I see it more as an opportunity.” She doubts NAWBO would have invited her to speak even a few years ago.
According to a recent study by market researcher New Frontier Data, the U.S. legal cannabis market is expected to pull in $43 billion by 2025.
Power believes being a minority-woman-owned company helps Giving Tree stand out--even in the way she designed the dispensary, she said.
The 15,000-square-feet facility features open space with seating areas for people to spend time and ask questions. Power also focused on capsules, because she believes they are not as intimidating to women users as other forms of cannabis. “We're all used to picking capsules, and there's no sugar, and people don't want to smoke,” she said.
Rosaria Cain, president of NAWBO’s Phoenix chapter, said when Arizona voters gave recreational cannabis the green light, the cannabis industry was launched into the mainstream. “NAWBO is looking for relevant, interesting content that is relevant to business women in Arizona,” she said. “With cannabis being approved by voters for adult use last year, it is a trending topic.” Power’s Nov. 10 presentation was NAWBO Phoenix’s first time featuring a leader in the cannabis industry.
Cain said Power’s path is a great example for all women leaders. “She genuinely wants to see equity in all careers, including cannabis.”
Sandra Guadarrama-Baumunk, co-chair of programming for NAWBO’s Phoenix chapter, said Power, along with other women-owned dispensaries, have set themselves apart by trailblazing career paths for other women. It is disheartening that there is still such a wide gender gap, Guadarrama-Baumunk said. “That’s why it’s still so important that we help to support female leaders like Lilach so that they can make a difference.”JN