For two days last week, women had a welcoming space online to share their experiences in the cannabis and psychedelics industries, two sectors that are only now shaking decades of stigma.
The second-annual Womxn, Wellness and Cannabis (WWC) Conference ran via Zoom on May 26–27 and was hosted by Marigold Marketing and PR. The conference ran one day covering topics on cannabis and the second day focused on psychedelics.
Attendance numbers doubled over last year’s event to a total of 2,000 registrants.
Here are three key takeaways from the conference:
1. Women and BIPOC bring valuable perspectives and results to these emerging industries
WWC Conference panelists often noted the cannabis and psychedelics industries need to integrate more diverse voices by inviting more women, BIPOC and traditional practitioners to the conversation.
During the Psychedelics, Sacred Medicine and Spirituality panel hosted by Awaken Your Soul Iboga Center facilitator Raven Marie, panelists discussed how the industry would benefit from recognizing the work of traditional practitioners who have been using psychedelics and cannabis for generations.
Cosmic Sister founder Zoe Helene, spoke about psychedelics use in Indigenous cultures and how the industry should integrate their knowledge into western approaches.
Knowde Group Inc. chief operating officer Dr. Sabrina Ramkellawan talked about the importance of having diverse cohorts not only in participants for studies, but also in the teams conducting psychedelic research.
Diversity also means including growers and entrepreneurs that don’t fit the typical description of what a cannabis grower or entrepreneur looks like.
California-based cannabis entrepreneurs Sisters of the Valley explained how and why they grow their weed based on the cycles of the moon. Sister Kate mentioned how their growers get better crops after meditating with their plants and talking to them with love.
“That is why we do not have any pets near them, because they do not respect the plant,” said Christine Meeusen, who goes by “Sister Kate,” adding that only cats are allowed by her company’s crops.
GreenPort CEO Vivianne Wilson spoke on the extra hoops she had to jump through to open her business as a woman of colour.
Wilson, who was born in Jamaica and immigrated to Canada with her family at age 7, explained how she was inspired to open her community-focused cannabis business after her experience growing up seeing her grandparents harvesting and using cannabis medicinally.
2. Psychedelics and cannabis use stigma is felt stronger in women than men
At the event, stigma was strongly identified as being a factor in why women are hesitant in joining the industry and even from using cannabis overall.
During The Intersection of Health, Wellness and Cannabis panel, VIVO’s Chief commercial and people officer Carole Chan said stigma still plays a role in why women steer away from using cannabis, even for medical purposes.
Marketing expert Jac Reid added how she has met senior women who choose more damaging pharmaceuticals over cannabis only because of the stigma it holds.
Panelists discussed how being a mother who uses cannabis can lead to fear of judgement and fear someone will call social services on them if they try it recreationally or even for medical purposes.
Cannabis’s bad rap has made many women their keep use a secret and to not seek proper education.
SheCann founder and CEO Ashleigh Brown talked about how much opening up and sharing experiences with others helps some women start to breaking the stigma by relating to other users. Brown said that nowadays women should stay away from the myth that medical cannabis is hard to access.
3. Covid impacted social and business connections, positively and negatively
Over the course of the event, organizers achieved their goal of connecting women in the industry by providing an accessible space for them to interact and share knowledge.
While speakers mentioned how the Covid pandemic has reduced valuable face-to-face human connections, participants also noted how technology was bridging the distance among experts and increasing diversity by allowing speakers and attendees to connect from across the globe.
Panelists mentioned how online conferences for psychedelics and cannabis increase accessibility for disabled folks. These events create a safer space for people who wouldn’t attend in person for fears of being judged by peers, given the heavy stigma the industries carry.
Speakers joined their panels from a widespread list of nations including India, Canada, Costa Rica, United States and Sweden, which might not have happened if the conference had been in person — not everyone has the means to travel internationally. Panelist’s dogs, cats and personal lives got introduced, which lent human perspective that you wouldn’t get at a face-to-face event.