In recognition of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the achievements of women in cannabis. One person who absolutely deserves some attention is the amazing Callie Blackwell, who gained global attention after...
Featured women in cannabis
Recognising the contributions of women in cannabis in coordination with International Women's day 2021.
“Cannabess” is a leading social media influencer, Seattle-based cannabis photographer and digital marketing professional. After a career path that began in Los Angeles in marketing research with clients including Nike and Apple, Cannabess tapped her passion for politics and started A Generation Empowered, a political advocacy group regarding fiscal and economic issues. In March 2015, Bess joined Western Cultured, an i502 grow and learned to grow. Bess took clones, transplanted to racks, pruned, transplanted to veg, pruned again, assembled water lines, loaded bloom rooms, weaved SCROG, harvested buds, cured them, trimmed them, weighed them, and eventually sold them. Later Bess led photography for Grassworks Digital, including for the number one producer/processor, Northwest Cannabis Solutions before starting her own agency, Blaise Creative in January 2018 providing content creation, social media management and other digital marketing services. As Bess’ social profile grew, Bess has aligned herself with companies who share her values and passion for this plant including advocating for legalization the right way which she calls “conscious capitalism.”
Callie Blackwell is an activist and author of ‘The Boy in 7 Billion’ - the story of how she gave her 14 year old son cannabis after being told that he had just three days to live. When Callie’s son Deryn was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2010 and then Langerhans cell sarcoma 18 months later, she embarked on a steep learning curve . A perilous journey through the complexities of paediatric chemotherapy, radiotherapy and bone marrow transplants on to learning about nutrition, herbal and holistic medicine showed her that, given the right nutrition and care, the body has the ability to heal itself. In 2013, when doctors gave Deryn three days to live, Callie gave him illegal cannabis. Many years later, Deryn is still proud to declare himself ‘illegally alive’. Callie has dedicated her life to helping others and has worked with numerous organisations to help people gain safe access to the cannabis they need to improve or prolong their lives. She is at the forefront of positive action for an end to cannabis prohibition in the UK.
Carly Barton is a pioneering medical cannabis activist in the UK. After suffering from a stroke at the age of 23 Carly gave up her profession as a lecturer in the Arts, due to debilitating health problems - fibromyalgia and post-stroke neuropathy. Years later she discovered that medical cannabis was a much more effective substitute for opioids to treat the chronic pain she was experiencing. Carly now advocates for patient access to medical cannabis as an advisor to all patient advocacy groups in the UK as well as many international organisations. She recently launched Carly's Amnesty which set the stage for Cancard, a collaborative project that has seen her connect high level police forces, doctors, patients and MPs on a scheme to reduce the fear 1.1 million British cannabis consumers have around interference from the police. Cancard is an ID card that serves as a decision making tool for frontline police when coming into contact with a patient in possession of medicine. All patients are medically verified so that they can demonstrate that they are utilising cannabis medicinally. Her work has seen her garner international press coverage and awards for her dedication to advocacy and change for patients who require the use of this life changing medicine.
Liv Vasquez is a chef and cannabis educator with a mission to help people develop a clearer understanding of Cannabis as a plant and industry in beautiful spaces. Liv travels the country hosting beautiful and magical popup events that act as a classroom for her to teach and answer questions about Cannabis in depth. Her audience spans globally and ranges from home cooks and grandmas who want to incorporate plant medicine into their lives to corporations like Pepsi that want to add CBD to their product. Liv has been called the "Alton Brown" of cannabis, because she has a clear understanding of the science, strain heritage, plant cultivation and ethics as well as medicine and digestion.
Los Angeles native Aaronique “Maverick” Kelly has been featured as a food stylist on the Nationally syndicated morning show Hollywood Today Live, worked as a chef with Wolfgang Puck Catering company, Patina Group Catering, Chef D. (Simply D’licious), and as Sous Chef for In Good Taste LA. In addition to expanding her private catering services, Chef Maverick developed Mav Sauce and Mav Snacks brand, gourmet cannabis infused snacks and sauces in 2018. An edibles brand that specializes in handmade organic, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and GMO-free products, Chef Maverick is personally committed to helping people find plant-based relief from health conditions and oversees the high quality, small batch production of every order.
Chelsea Leyland is a British DJ, medical cannabis/epilepsy activist and model, earning her name “fashion’s DJ” for her work in the fashion industry. In 2016, Chelsea, who suffers from a form of epilepsy called ‘Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy’, made the life changing decision to treat her epilepsy solely with medical cannabis as opposed to pharmaceutical anti-seizure medications and has been seizure free ever since. Leyland has used her own life experience and professional platform to become one of the most recognized advocates for the destigmatisation of both epilepsy and medical cannabis. Chelsea is a strong supporter of the Epilepsy Society (UK) and uses and works tirelessly to use her unique position to encourage and empower others to have meaningful discussion around epilepsy and cannabis.
Dr Dani is a double board certified medical doctor, integrative medicine physician and world leading expert in CBD, cannabis medicine, brain wellness & stress resilience. She was one of the youngest physicians to become American board certified in Integrative Medicine (the newest US physician subspecialty), co-founded the UK Medical Cannabis Clinicians' Society (MCCS), trained the UK's first cannabis medicine specialists and helped set up the UK's first cannabis medicine centres. She has lectured at Imperial College, King’s College, and UCL on medical cannabis. She also developed the first medical cannabis training program for physicians in the UK and is a consultant for clinical research in cannabinoid medicine working with top researchers around the world.
Dr. Daniela Vergara is an evolutionary biologist researching Cannabis genomics at the University of Colorado Boulder. In addition to her multiple publications in Cannabis, she founded and directs a non-profit organization, the Agricultural Genomics Foundation (AGF; AgriculturalGenomics.org). AGF’s aim is to make Cannabis science available to a broad public. Vergara is also part of the scientific company Steep Hill, Inc. who are a global leader in Cannabis science and lab testing. Dr. Vergara’s latest scientific publications include the comparison of the federal Cannabis to that produced by the private market, showing that the government’s Cannabis lacked potency and variation. Some of her other scientific publications are a compilation on the existing genomic tools available for Cannabis research, and the maternally inherited genomes (chloroplast and mitochondria). At Steep Hill, Inc. Vergara is developing a commercial service that will determine the relationship between Cannabis varieties. Besides being a reviewer for multiple scientific journals such as Molecular Ecology and the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Vergara has also been an expert witness in legal Cannabis testimonies. Currently, Dr. Vergara is exploring the genes related to the production of CBD and THC, and is associating this important physical trait to the genome
Debra Borchardt is Co-founder, CEO and Editor in Chief of the cannabis financial news website Green Market Report. The Green Market Report is a leading source of financial news for the growing cannabis industry. Deborah brings 20 years of financial experience to her business reporting stemming from her role as a Vice President at Bear Stearns, where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. In addition to the Green Market Report, Debroah is a co-founder of the cannabis executive women's networking group, Industry Power Women and a board member of the cannabis newswire AxisWire. Deborah is a frequent speaker and considered one of the top cannabis journalists.
Gia Morón is President of Women Grow, the largest cannabis industry professional network in the US with over 500,000 members. Through events and other programming in 35 cities, Women Grow connects, educates, inspires and empowers the next generation of cannabis industry leaders. With 25 years of experience in public relations, including fifteen years as Media Relations Officer at the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Gia launched GVM Communications, Inc., a public relations, brand and business development firm. Outside of her professional accomplishments, Gia continuously works with a number of non-profit organizations in New York City and mentors up-and-coming young women entrepreneurs across the country to South Africa
Hannah Whyte, CEO of Emerald Queen Farms, is proud to call Willow Creek, Humboldt County, CA home for the last decade. Emerald Queen Farms was born from Prop 215 to cultivate high quality medical cannabis for patients and medical dispensaries in California. Hannah and husband Riley have successfully developed a fully permitted and licensed farm at Morton Ranch, a historical homestead in Humboldt Co. Emerald Queen Farms has taken considerable interest and efforts to develop cultivation practices that are rooted in environmentally sound practices and exemplify a taste of place by producing the majority of their cannabis in native soil with strictly organic inputs. Hannah has been twice elected by plant touching members to serve on Humboldt County Growers Alliance Policy committee directing staff for government affairs policy decisions. She believes setting an example and outlining a roadmap for sustainable community development is paramount to the future success of Humboldt County and its cannabis industry. "
Jacqui Grant has been cooking up a strom of culinary delights for more than a decade, focusing primarily on the needs of women in the medical cannabis community. As a Recipe Developer for Seedsman, Jacqui enjoys matching the flavour profiles of various cannabis strains to 'easy to cook' recipes that consumers can make at home. Jacqui's fascination with the science of making confectionary has led her to produce high quliaty edibles. Since the start of her journey her clients have remained loyal consumers, offering feedback and insights that has informed the efficacy and popularity of her products to 'hit the right spot' - medically speaking of course!
Mandy is a medical licensee and Canadian home grower. Her passion for growing medicine for herself and her husband, quickly grew into learning to process her own extracts, infused oils and butters, topicals, botanicals and more. Both on her Instagram and on the Seedsman’s Blog, she showcases her journey growing and processing, while highlighting the versatility of using cannabis as medicine.
Mara Gordon is the Co-Founder of Aunt Zelda's™, Zelira Therapeutics (previously Zelda Therapeutics) (stock symbol: ZLD), and Octopi Wellness™. She specializes in the development of data-driven cannabis treatment protocols for seriously ill patients and is dedicated to bringing about change in the healthcare system. Prior to working with cannabinoid-based medicine, Gordon worked as a process engineer, helping Fortune 500 companies create intelligent software. This experience has enabled her to take a detailed and scientific approach to medical cannabis. Gordon has transformed the lives of thousands of patients suffering from a variety of ailments, including chronic pain, autoimmune conditions and multiple forms of cancer. Her pioneering work in the field of medical cannabis has been chronicled in films such as The Medicine in Marijuana, Mary Janes: Women of Weed, and the award-winning documentary Weed the People. "
Mary Jane Gibson is an actress, writer and former lifestyle, entertainment and culture editor at High Times, and one of the most prominent female voices tracking the legalization of medical marijuana, adult-use cannabis and CBD with integral public figures, brands and personalities since 2007. Her unique perspective in cannabis and world culture has earned her work with numerous media outlets, including Rolling Stone, Playboy and PBS, and the title “one of the 15 most powerful women in the weed industry” by Complex Magazine. Complimenting her writing, film, production, and performance credits, Mary Jane received the Overall Excellence in Performance Award from FringeNYC, the William and Eva Fox Foundation Fellowship, and two Seattle Fringe Festival PONCHO Artistic Pick awards (2002, 2003). She has conducted in-depth celebrity interviews with Margaret Cho, Melissa Etheridge, Awkwafina, Charlie Sheen, Jim Belushi, LaGanja Estranja, the Super Troopers and more.
Mary Pryor is the co-founder of Cannaclusive, a collective focused on inclusive marketing and business advocacy in the cannabis industry, New York Chapter President of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, and serves as Chief Marketing Officer for Tonic CBD and Tricolla Farms. She currently serves on the board for Possible Plan, a Cura Cannabis social equity effort and serves as an advisor and judge for Eaze Momentum Accelerator as well as advising cannabis and non-plant-touching companies. A bicoastal media expert with an impressive roster of employers and clients, Mary has worked for major brands across the music, media, technology, and marketing industries including Sony Music Group, Viacom, Black Enterprise, CBS News, Ebony Magazine, Essence Magazine and Rolling Stone. In 2014 she was recognized as SXSW’s Innovator of the Year.
Monica Lo is a creative director and photographer working to change public perception of cannabis users. She is the creator of Sous Weed and a recipe contributor at KQED Bay Area Bites. Monica shot and styled for the award-winning Sous Vide at Home and Sous Vide Made Simple cookbook with Penguin Random. She also has photography published in Ganja Yoga with Dee Dussault and Harper Collins. Monica has a chef feature and recipe published in the Edibles: Small Bites for the Modern Cannabis Kitchen cookbook with Chronicle Books and a chef feature in The Ultimate Guide to CBD by Jamie Evans and Fair Winds Press. Recently featured on: TODAY Show, Nightly News with Lester Holt, MSNBC, Forbes, Huffington Post, Heathyish, Bon Appetit, NBC Asian America, ABC7, CNET, NPR, PopSugar, High Times, CULTURE Magazine, MARY Magazine, Broccoli Mag, Cannabis Now, MJ Lifestyle, VICE Munchies, and Leafly.
MzJill’s journey cultivating cannabis began with a love for growing all things and being highly motivated to find a solution for her lifetime affliction with scoliosis. After juggling teaching, homeschooling her girls, and growing, MzJill began cultivating full-time and co-founded TGA Genetics in 2003. The seed company soon became the first well-known, aboveground cannabis-genetics source native to the United States. Today, as the Owner and Head Breeder of MzJill Genetics, MzJill continues to take the same gentle approach to cultivating strains, as she did with growing her own medicine. MzJill Genetics is one of the most celebrated ultra-premium seed companies, across the world. Her commitment to creating medication for those people and causes she cares about most has led to her developing popular, award-winning strains including Jilly Bean, High Times Top Ten (2007), High Times Best Sativa (2014), The Adam Dunn Show Invitational (ADSI) 1st Place (2018). Its iconic flavor makes it a staple in numerous cannabis confections and has been highly effective in the treatment of PTSD, anxiety, ADHD, depression, and migraines. Another strain credited to MzJill is Agent Orange in honor of her dad who was part of the United States Army Special Forces and a Green Beret in Vietnam. The proceeds of Agent Orange sales are donated to suffering war veterans. MzJill’s tangible legacy includes numerous award-winning, medicinal, cultivars but also her charity, People Helping People. Her work includes organizing holiday food, clothing, and toy drives (across Oregon and Northern California); fundraising for the less fortunate, veterans, and children with disabilities; and empowering women, especially in the cannabis ecosystem.
“Ninibee”, or Nina, is founder of Peace & Grow and co-founder of Women of Weed UK. While her background is in psychology, her passions are cannabis, photography and illustration. While covering the endocannabinoid system at university she met many people in the industry by going to events which led Nina to work with Blue Ridge Hemp in America. In the meantime, Nina and co-founder and friend Canna_gal420 formed Women of Weed, a support network and platform to connect women with no shame or stigma. Back in the UK, Nina also founded her business Peace & Grow, providing high quality and 100% traceable hemp in the U.K.
Patty Amiguet Adell is a cannabis activist, anti-prohibitionist and feminist. She graduated in Management and Finance and is studying for a Social and Cultural Anthropology degree at UNED. She is the founder of Pachamama Cannabis Association, president of CatFAC (Federation of Cannabis Associations of Catalonia), Co-founder of REMA (State Network of Anti-prohibitionist Women in the field of drugs), co-founder and member of the project Cannabis Women (Mujeres Cannábicas), and spokeswoman of ConFAC (Confederation of Cannabis Federations).
Rachel Burkons is an entrepreneur, educator and consultant specializing in the culinary and hospitality-focused cannabis industry. Rachel spent more than a decade working alongside the biggest wine and spirits tastemakers and brands in the world as VP/Associate Publisher for national publications The Tasting Panel and SOMM Journal. Rachel was also part of the team that launched The Clever Root, a publication bringing cannabis to the dining conversation. In 2016, Rachel and her brother, Chef Holden Jagger, co-founded Altered Plates, a culinary cannabis hospitality and events company. Rachel is the Executive Director for Crop to Kitchen, a trade organization serving the culinary cannabis industry. There, she oversees policy and advocacy work designed to advance the culinary cannabis industry and develop new, compliant business opportunities for the industry.
Professor Saoirse Elizabeth O’Sullivan (@ScienceSaoirse) received her doctorate from Trinity College Dublin in 2001 and moved to the University of Nottingham in 2002 as a Research fellow where she began researching cannabinoid pharmacology through basic and clinical research. She was made Lecturer in 2007, Associate Professor in 2011 and Full Professor in 2019. She has nearly 50 peer-reviewed articles and 3 books chapters on the topic of cannabinoid pharmacology dating back to 2004. Her specific interests are on the therapeutic potential of cannabis-based medicines in cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease. In 2016, she was named the International Cannabinoid Research Society Young Investigator of the Year. In 2017, Saoirse set up an independent consulting company called CanPharmaConsulting Ltd, and through this, acts as scientific advisor to companies like Artelo Biosciences, CBDScience Group, Therapix Biosciences and Dragonfly Biosciences, helping to turn cannabinoid science into new medicines. She also develops educational tools around the use of cannabis-based medicines for higher learning institutes. She is a long-standing member of, and general secretary to, the International Cannabinoid Research Society. She works with charities, patient groups, healthcare professionals to educate on the benefits of cannabis-based medicines. Saoirse has worked with the BBC and is an expert witness for the police.
With over 17 years of cannabis growing experience, priceless mentorship under Master Hashmaker Frenchy Cannoli, and fierce commitment to her art to fully immerse herself in the global cannabis industry; The Dank Duchess shares insights, techniques, and innovations with growers and hashmakers around the world. With dozens of feature length Hashish stories, how-to videos, public appearances, and Hashish education modules to her credit, The Dank Duchess has become an internationally recognized Hashish authority. Initially a cultivator, she has blossomed into a Hashish storyteller, maker, and media personality. Her distinct writing style, crafting intimate scenes that viscerally invoke the sights, smells, and effects of everything she relates, has graced magazines and books; including Weed World UK, Skunk Magazine, Cannabis Now, and anthologies by Ed Rosenthal.
After medical cannabis saved “The Mommy Jane’s” life and family in 2017, she created a virtual “Neighborhood” on Instagram to help an audience of nearly 25,000 Neighbors also become their best selves through mindfulness practices and plant medicine education. “Where most women find stress relief in a pill or a pour, I was able to tame my anger, anxiety and depression with plant medicine.” Each week, the Mommy Jane showcase personalities and brands that inspire or help the the Neighborhood through Instagram Lives. When not coaching on mindful living or educating others on the benefits of plant medicine, Mommy Jane is conducting a Manifesting Mastermind Group, or enlightening audiences as an event panelist usually around the topics of cannabis and parenting or cannabis and mental health.
Tina Gordon relocated to Southern Humboldt County in 2007, seeking freedom from the density of urban life and the space to grow some long-held aspirations. With a seasoned background as a producer, musician, event promoter, and documentary filmmaker, she arrived with a keen sense of fostering community and the goal of a diverse, inclusive network committed to healthy living. Through a serendipitous twist, this special stretch of land once belonging to a dear friend became her home, and she set about developing the 40 acres that would become a farm, collective, and center of agricultural innovation for the next decade to come. Today, Tina thrives as an active cannabis farmer and advocate, having experienced firsthand the many benefits of sustainably-grown therapeutic cannabis and food-based medicine.
Valerie Corral is the co-founder & the director of WAMM, the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, the longest running medical marijuana collective in the US, founded in 1993 in Santa Cruz, California. WAMM serves chronically & seriously ill & dying members of the community with organic, non-GMO cannabis grown in their collective garden. Members of WAMM receive organic medicinal cannabis at cost while volunteers trade work for cannabis. There is a compassion program for those unable to afford the full cost of medical cannabis. Valerie is also acting director of WAMM's sister non-profit hospice service program, Raha Kudo, the Design for Dying Project. This hospice organization addresses concerns of the dying members of WAMM and their families. Valerie was a key-player in the crafting, and passage of, Proposition 215 – also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 – which allowed patients with a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana medicinally.
Wanda’s political and entrepreneurial work on cannabis reform has led to her being named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Cannabis by High Times magazine in 2018 and one of the 2016 Cannabis Business Executive (CBE) 50 Most Important Women in the Cannabis Industry. Assisting in the development of the policies for medicinal cannabis, led to Ms. James’ selection for the Amendment 64 campaign committee which legalized cannabis in Colorado. After legalization, she worked on several of Governor Hickenlooper’s cannabis work groups for edibles, packaging, dispensary operations and communications. Her expertise on cannabis reform, regulation and policy has assisted numerous municipalities including, Jamaica, Maryland, and California, in their legalization efforts.
Named as one of the most influential women in cannabis by Green Entrepreneur, Zoe Wilder is a publicist, cannabis industry consultant, writer and media professional with over 20 years in the business. Zoe and her team at the PR agency she founded works with A-list celebrities, cultivators, and top brands and businesses across the industry. Her writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, High Times, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Merry Jane, MassRoots, and more. Along with Jim Belushi, Melissa Etheridge, Steve Deangelo, Damian and Stephen Marley and other prominent advisors, Zoe actively supports The Last Prisoner Project, working towards policy and reform committed to freeing every last prisoner held for cannabis offenses legal in most states
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A History of Women in Weed
- 1100s Benedictine Abbess, Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), was a composer, musician, herbalist and mystic who wrote about the medicinal use of cannabis in her book, ‘The Physica’. She grew cannabis in her herbal garden and recommended its use against nausea and stomach troubles.
- 1563 Queen Elizabeth orders English crop growers to devote a portion of their land to growing hemp. She added a fine of £5 for any eligible landlord who failed to comply.
- 1840 - 1850 Queen Victoria is said to have been prescribed cannabis for her menstrual cramps
- 1846 Harriet Martineau, writer, feminist and sociologist (and relative of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge) travelled to the Middle East. In her memoir, Eastern Life, Present and Past, she recounts an experience of enjoying cannabis in a harem.
- 1876 Louisa May Alcott, writer of Little Women, published her short story, ‘Perilous Play’ about young socialites who experiment with hash. The story ends with the love interest of the socialite declaring, “Heaven bless hashish if its dreams end like this!”
- 1954 Alice B Toklas, life partner of author Gertrude Stein, published her recipe for Haschish Fudge in The Alice B Toklas Cookbook.
- 1969 Renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead testified before congress in favour of the legalisation of cannabis. In her testimony she declared “It is my considered opinion at present that marihuana is not harmful unless it is taken in enormous and excessive amounts. I believe that we are damaging this country, damaging our law, our whole law enforcement situation, damaging the trust between the older people and younger people by its prohibition, and this is far more serious than any damage that might be done to a few overusers, because you can get damage from any kind of overuse.”
- 1974 Writer, civils right activist and poet extolled the benefits of cannabis in her autobiography ‘Gather Together in My Name’: “I learned new postures and developed new dreams. From a natural stiffness, I melted into a grinning tolerance. Walking on the streets became high adventure, eating my mother’s huge dinners an opulent entertainment, and playing with my son was side-cracking hilarity. For the first time, life amused me.”
- 1978 American intellectual and writer Susan Sontag was interviewed by High Times saying, ‘I think marijuana is much better than liquor. I think a society which is addicted to a very destructive and unhealthy drug, namely alcohol, certainly has no right to complain or be sanctimonious or censor the use of a drug which is much less harmful.’
- 1980s Mary Jane Rathbun, a.k.a. “Brownie Mary,” illegally bakes and serves brownies to San Francisco AIDS patients. After her arrest in in 1992, Mary testified to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors about the medical benefits of marijuana. This led to a Board resolution to make medicinal cannabis possession the "lowest priority" in arrests and prosecution. On the day of the City Hall rally, the Board declared August 25th to be "Brownie Mary Day" in recognition of her work at the San Francisco General Hospital with AIDS patients.
- 2004 Professor Ester Fride, the Dutch Israeli scientist, published, ‘The endocannabinoid-CB receptor system: Importance for development and in pediatric disease’, in which her results proposed the importance of a fully developed endocannabinoid system for the survival and healthy suckling among infant mammals.