The Cold Truth Episode 5: Cultivating Success with Ryan Douglas

The Cold Truth Episode 5: Cultivating Success with Ryan Douglas

For the January 2023 episode drop of The Cold Truth, Cyro Cure President Greg Baughman and CEO Tracee McAfee sat down with cultivation consultant Ryan Douglas. This conversation covers a wide span of cannabis industry cultivation trends and how companies can capitalize on them to achieve success. Read a quick summary of that conversation below, watch the full interview on YouTube, or download this podcast episode from platforms like Spotify and Google Podcasts.

Assessing cannabis industry challenges

For the last five years, Douglas has worked as an independent cannabis cultivation consultant internationally, helping operations run more profitable cultivation sites. Previously, Douglas led cultivation Tweed Inc., one of the largest cannabis producers in Canada under the Canopy Growth umbrella. There, he developed and launched the company’s cultivation program.

Douglas spoke to Greg and Tracee on the podcast about how success for cultivators is tied to the basic economic principle of supply and demand. As cultivation capacity ramps up in legal markets and more cannabis becomes available, product prices go down.

“While this is beneficial for the consumer, it can be anxiety-inducing for business owners,” Douglas said. “More mature states have either flatlined or [have] slightly decreased overall sales. I think we will continue to see that overall trend, but it’s not going to fall off a cliff,” he continued. 

Douglas did, however, note excitement and economic opportunity in states initiating medical or adult-use programs for the first time. 

Overcoming hurdles in cannabis cultivation

As a consultant, Douglas brings a fresh perspective from assessing common issues and implementing cutting-edge techniques like data-driven growing. The lessons he’s learned by working with a wide range of cannabis companies give him deep insight into the state of the industry and where it’s going next.

“While people working seven days a week can lose sight,” Douglas says, “For an outsider, it typically takes about 20 minutes for red flags to present themselves.” 

In terms of improvement, Douglas focused on two key areas. First, be sure of what it costs to produce a pound of cannabis. Second, turn to technologies and airtight processes to increase efficiencies that help keep those costs at bay. 

For growers who have focused on both these areas but still struggle to stand out, Douglas advises supplementing revenue with products and services other than flower.

“There are a number of ancillary businesses that are of tremendous benefit to growers and in great demand – things like young plant producers, culture services, and diagnostic lab services,” he said.

Finding the next big thing

Douglas shared on the podcast that he expects to see a transition from indoor cultivation to greenhouse cultivation in states where production is saturated.

“I think it’s going to become more and more competitive growing indoors,” Douglas explained. “Regardless of how efficient these lights are, [indoor grows] require a lot of HVAC and dehumidification – both of which run on energy,” Douglas continued. “If you have the right greenhouse and grower, you can maintain good quality.” 

Further, as new companies come online and existing companies expand, Douglas expects that they will turn to greenhouses to offset the carbon footprint of their indoor facilities.

How GMP affects the grow

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) are quality standards established with the goals of creating a consistent product and guaranteeing consumer safety in mind. Because cannabis is not federally legal in the U.S., no federal agency enforces these rules or requires GMP certification for the cultivation portion of a business. The result is drastic variation in the standards of cultivation sites. 

As federal legalization inches closer, Douglas noted that the companies that voluntarily implement some kind of quality management system would already be in the best position to succeed in the future. 

“Pick one, stick with it, and you’ll be in a much better situation when federal legalization comes into play,” he says. “It’s easier to tweak than to start from scratch.”  

It’s generally accepted that GMP standards are eventually coming to the cannabis industry, and getting ahead of the game with an effective quality assurance program today could be key to attaining a competitive advantage tomorrow.

The biggest myth of cultivation  

As someone with a background and training in traditional horticulture, Douglas says the biggest misconception in cultivation is that cannabis is entirely different from any other crop out there. 

“I was growing ornamental crops and hydroponic vegetables in a greenhouse for a decade and a half before I transitioned to cannabis,” he said. “I’ve got a unique perspective in that I’ve grown flowers, vegetables, and cannabis on a commercial scale. In my opinion, 80 to 90% of the production principles of growing flowers and vegetables apply directly to cannabis.” 

According to Douglas, hiring someone with commercial cultivation facility experience of any kind might be more beneficial than someone with strictly cannabis experience. 

“You can pull a home grower with small-scale experience, but a commercial facility is a world of difference,” he said. “It’s not always the case, but it can often be better to pair a commercial grower with a subject matter expert for a short period of time to bring them up to speed on cannabis.”

Go from seed to success with Ryan Douglas

If you’re interested in learning more about cultivation from Ryan Douglas, Tracee describes his book From Seed to Success as “a Bible for anyone considering getting into cannabis cultivation” that also offers actionable advice for experienced growers. 

With his first book about starting a cultivation business, Douglas also teased the possibility of a second book on optimizing grow operations. 

“2023 is going to be the year of optimization,” he said. “The most successful businesses are going to be the ones that are the most efficient and can really dial in their operations.” 

You can listen to the full episode with Ryan Douglas by clicking here.

Read the recaps of previous Cold Truth episodes:

The Cold Truth Episode 4: Talking Cannabis Compliance with Heidi Teutsch

The Cold Truth Episode 4: Talking Cannabis Compliance with Heidi Teutsch

In this episode of The Cold Truth, Cyro Cure CEO Tracee McAfee sat down with Heidi Teutsch, Founder and CEO of T420 Consulting and a former regulator in Massachusetts. Teutsch is fighting to end cannabis stereotypes and push back against stigma.

On the podcast, Tracee spoke with Heidi about cannabis compliance and all the moving parts around such important work, including team morale. Read a quick summary of that conversation below, watch the full interview on YouTube, or download this podcast episode from platforms like Spotify and Google Podcasts.

Approaching cannabis with care

With a background in law enforcement and mental health services, Teutsch has dedicated her career to helping others. She spent her undergraduate years studying sociology with a concentration in anthropology and earned her Master’s in Criminal Justice. 

On the podcast, Teutsch shared her experience working for a mental health unit in the greater Boston area. During her time as a milieu therapist for children and adults, Teutsch saw firsthand how many people she encountered made cannabis a part of their mental health routine. 

“Some of the medications out there right now have a lot of side effects,” she expressed on the episode. “I’m encouraged and hopeful that with federal legalization, we’ll be able to get people to research the wonderful benefits of cannabis. It’s going to help the greater population overall,” she continued. 

The status of compliance

As the interim director of the compliance and investigation portion of the medical marijuana program in Massachusetts, Teutsch was responsible for visiting all of the grows in the state and checking for compliance with state standards. 

“We were looking at every aspect with a very critical eye.” Heidi noted regarding her experience, “And while there are many companies doing it right, many companies are struggling.” 

Teutsch’s team would conduct unannounced visits to investigate the compliance of medical cannabis facilities. “We weren’t going in with white gloves, but we did have to see everything that was going on,” she shared. “We weren’t looking to shut people down. We were looking to make sure they were doing it right.”

One piece Teutsch expressed about her experience is the common struggle within cannabis facilities concerning staffing and turnover rates. 

“It was always tough to get inside an organization and get complaints from workers who were happy. It’s when the workers aren’t happy… [like] when one person comes in and changes the culture, then there are all these disgruntled employees calling me,” Teutsch said.

Teutsch also noted a strong balance between personalities within a cannabis facility to be another essential ingredient for success. “While those on the inventory side might be more meticulous and less people-friendly, those on the retail side have to be super friendly and understand the plant,” Teutsch said.

Keeping employees happy

According to Teutsch, successful cannabis facilities are rooted in knowledge and care, and that ethos translates to a content workforce.

“When top management really understands what entry level employees are doing and have a good eye on it, they are more likely to succeed,” Teutsch said. “This includes understanding the plant’s needs for cleanliness, or really that these plants are living. Even after harvesting the product, the plant is still continuously evolving. When people are slowing it down a little more, it gives them a longer, healthier plant base that they’re able to get more out of.” 

Teutsch also noted a strong balance between personalities within a cannabis facility to be another essential ingredient for success.

“While those on the inventory side might be more meticulous and less people-friendly, those on the retail side have to be super friendly and understand the plant.” Utilizing the right team members in the right places to balance differing skill sets is critical. 

Both host and guest agreed on the importance of a positive company culture. “I think these plants pick up on the energy of the corporate culture,” Teutsch noted. “Happy environment, happy plants.”

Compliance advice for new cannabis businesses

Backed with knowledge from previous investigations, Teutsch offers consulting for start-ups. 

“I, fortunately, know a lot in this industry, and I’m proud to say I’ve had a lot of unique experiences that have given me a particular insight,” she expressed regarding her consulting.  “I don’t know all the answers, and I don’t have all the information all the time. I likely know who does, though.” 

“One of the things that I do is help people sort out if a project is sound or not if they want to invest in it,” Heidi explained. “And I think that part of the myth is just taking that pretty shiny wrapper off and looking at cannabis for what it is. Then you can value the industry for what it has to offer.”

Overall, Teutsch credits herself as a “forever student” who’s learned from every cultivator she’s ever met. “It’s really just understanding the looseness of this industry and that what’s right today isn’t necessarily going to be right tomorrow.” 

Moving forward, Teutsch said she is excited to be a part of a group of people genuinely inspired by the plant and working together to build this industry. “Cannabis should be super functional and accessible to everybody without stigma,” she noted. “[There’s space] to make plenty of money and have a career you can work 30 years in.” 

Listen to the whole interview with Heidi Teutsch

Heidi and Tracee tackled some of the dos and don’ts of cannabis compliance and maintained success in this pressure-some industry. And while Heidi ultimately says there is no one way to grow, it’s clear that positivity in the workplace can result in higher success rates.

“Happy environments, happy plants,” Heidi noted. 

Listen to the full episode of The Cold Truth. Subscribe to Cryo Cure on YouTube or to The Cold Truth on your favorite podcast streaming platform.

The Cold Truth Episode 3: Talking Couples in Cannabis, with Mary Palmer CBD Founders

The Cold Truth Episode 3: Talking Couples in Cannabis, with Mary Palmer CBD Founders

At Cryo Cure, we’re redefining what’s possible for the cannabis industry. In this video and podcast series from Cryo Cure founders Tracee McAfee and Greg Baughman, cannabis industry myths are explored, debunked, and retold to help the world understand the ever-changing cannabis landscape and explore the beauty and magic of the plant.

For this month’s edition of The Cold Truth, Cyro Cure co-founders Greg Baughman and Tracee McAfee sat down with Steven “DJ Stenny” Stentiford and Lynne Spinney.  Partners in business and love, Stenny and Lynn are the co-founders of Mary Palmer, a highly awarded hemp CBD company based in Quincy, Massachusetts.

On the podcast, Greg and Tracee spoke with Stenny and Lynne about what it’s like to run a CBD company as a couple and spent some time diving into what goes into quality products. Read a quick summary of that conversation below, watch the full interview on YouTube, or download this podcast episode from platforms like Spotify and Google Podcasts.

Working together as a couple

As a couple running a cannabis business together, Greg and Tracee spoke at length with Lynne and Stenny about their experience balancing the overlap between their work relationship and life outside of the office.

“We both are strongly opinionated people, so we have to work on separating our emotional minds from our business minds,” Lynne noted. “Sometimes, we just have to take that 5-minute break.”

Lynne and Stenny said that working together allows them to push each other to be better every day, even while making tough decisions that they may not completely agree on.

“When we both want to do something in our own way, we have to figure out how we can stroll our own paths and come together at the end,” said Lynne.

Standing out as a product line and a brand

Mary Palmer has become one of the most awarded and established CBD brands on the East Coast, with numerous awards from prestigious industry contests like the High Times Cannabis Cup and The Harvest Cup. Known for their distinct and innovative products, Greg and Tracee find out how Stenny and Lynne continue to stay relevant in a highly-saturated and competitive space.

“We find when there is a lack in the market, and we need to put better products in there to fill the void,” Lynne shared, citing the brand’s CBD gum as an alternative to gummies. “We try to find an improvement on what’s out there. Everyone loves gummies, but we don’t think they are the most bioavailable product.”

Other niche products like the “Best Bud” Dog Treats and CBD infused rose water facial toner have also been recognized for their unique, problem-solving formulations.

“A lot of people are not used to using CBD in that way,” Lynne said in regards to CBD for skincare. “There are so many benefits from CBD; for skin, acne, any kind of irritation you might be dealing with in your skin.”

Debunking edible myths

In addition to the Mary Palmer brand, Lynne and Stenny also helped to debunk some edibles myths. Some of the myths surrounding ingestible cannabis products they talk about on the episode include:

Myth #1: “All edibles are made the same”

Not all edibles are made with the same methods and procedures. Mary Palmer, for example, reintroduces terpenes after heat application. By adding terpenes to the product following any use of heat, manufacturers can reintroduce compounds that may have been lost during the cultivation or processing stages.

Before making a purchase, Stenny said that consumers should research the product in question and who’s making it. While many retailers claim to supply CBD products, some do not have any CBD at all.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for a certificate of analysis (CoA),” added Lynn. “This pretty much means the product has gone through a lab and has been tested and verified. If you’re selling CBD, you should be able to provide that.”

Myth #2: “Edibles need a lot of THC to be effective”

When you use a cannabis product with THC, for example, it’s not just the THC playing a role in the consumer experience. Stenny and Lynne discussed the use of full spectrum extract so customers can experience what’s called the entourage effect, or the theory that all compounds in the plant work synergistically for enhanced effects.

“We like to make products with a whole balance of the CBD and the plant in there,” Stenny explained.

“It’s really a little bit of everything,” added Lynne. “CBG, CBN, all the cannabinoids coming together, Even if it’s just in those small percentages, makes it something you are going to feel and get results [from].”

Myth #3 “There are indica and sativa edibles”

Lynne and Stenny both feel that it’s time to move the conversation about indica and sativa away from effects. While indica and sativa are valid descriptors for cultivators describing plant appearance, called phenotype, these labels do not tell the whole story and have little to do with consumption. Stenny explained that these terms do not hold much meaning beyond the manufacturing stage as they generally cannot predict user experience.

“We reintroduced terpenes into some of the drinks, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a sativa or an indica drink,” noted Stenny.

Is federal legalization around the corner?

The episode also touched on federal legalization and what that would mean for ingestible cannabis products. With federal legalization, Lynne said, Mary Palmer CBD can access more funds for research and education purposes.

“People don’t really understand what they are buying; they only understand what’s on the package,” she explained. “I think it will be nice to have standard regulation going from state to state, too.”

“[Right now] you just kind of have to pick and choose how you feel. It’s kind of scary for new [consumers], or elderly people who want to get into cannabis but don’t know what to expect,” added Greg.

From a business perspective, Stenny says he is most excited about the potential for social consumption.

“It would be cool for us to be seen more in settings where you and your friends can walk in, sit down and order a beverage, and hang out,” Stenny said.

Growing with Mary Palmer

In the course of the conversation with The Cold Truth, Stenny and Lynne tackled a wide range of topics, from working together as a couple to tackling the challenges of the cannabis industry together. And while there is no right or wrong way to grow, Stenny and Lynne say, it does take planning and consistency.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” Stenny noted.

For more information about Mary Palmer, follow the brand on social media at @whoismarypalmer.
Catch up on prior episodes of The Cold Truth here:

Episode 1: Women in Cannabis Study

Episode 2: Cultivation Legends with Daniel Vinkovetsky

The Cold Truth Episode 2: Cultivation Legends, with Daniel Vinkovetsky

The Cold Truth Episode 2: Cultivation Legends, with Daniel Vinkovetsky

At Cryo Cure, we’re redefining what’s possible for the cannabis industry. In this video and podcast series from Cryo Cure founders Tracee McAfee and Greg Baughman, cannabis industry myths are explored, debunked, and retold to help the world understand the ever-changing cannabis landscape and explore the beauty and magic of the plant.

On the special 4/20 edition of The Cold Truth, Cryo Cure President Greg Baughman sat down with Daniel Vinkovetsky (formerly known as Danny Danko of High Times magazine), Editor of Northeast Leaf Magazine, co-host of Grow Bud Yourself podcast, and the author of Cannabis: A Beginners Guide to Marijuana. Vinkovetsky is known as one of the most accredited writers in the cannabis industry who has been a respected authority in the space for more than 18 years.

On the podcast, Greg talked with Daniel about some of the most common misconceptions and questions in cannabis cultivation. Read a quick summary of that conversation below, watch the full interview on YouTube, or download this episode of the podcast from platforms like Spotify and Google Podcasts.

Indica vs. sativa: Does it make a difference?

When it comes to cultivars, Vinkovetsky says the differentiation between indica and sativa is much more complex than most consumers tend to presume. Although indica and sativa cultivars have been associated with certain effects in popular lore, that’s nowhere near enough information to fully understand how a specific cultivar may affect the consumer. Different factors, such as location, soil, grow time, and climate, all play a role in developing the phytocannabinoid and terpene profile that has the effect on a consumer.

“While the plant first originated in central Asia, it was spread across the world by human beings and adapted to the places where it went,” noted Vinkovetsky. “Altitude, latitude, up in the mountains, how much sun it gets – all these things affect the plant in all these different places,” he continued.

In general, the differences between cultivars are much more in-depth than the umbrella that sativa vs. indica tends to place them. Still, however, these identities are a simple way to introduce beginners to a complex topic.

Does more THC always mean stronger effects?

One common misconception among consumers is that products with higher Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content will result in a stronger high. In reality, however, cannabis products are made effective by what is known as the entourage effect – or the idea that cannabis compounds act synergistically to achieve maximum results.

While there is a baseline amount of THC, “somewhere around 10-15%,” Vinkovetsky says, “it’s how it interplays with the other cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids that is going to give you the effective, different qualities.”

Even in products with the highest percentage of THC, the effects can be quite nuanced and influenced by other cannabinoids and terpenes. “We give a little too much credit to THC levels,” noted Vinkovetsky. “You need THC, but you also need all these other cannabinoids in different amounts and ratios to have those interesting effects; uplifting, lethargic, insightful, cerebral.”

While consumers are becoming more aware of the varying effects of different cannabis products, the public must become more educated on how the interaction of cannabinoids plays a role in that. Budtenders and dispensaries, in particular, Vinkovetsky noted, should be knowledgeable enough to prevent new consumers from being off-put by a first experience.

The finer points of cultivation: Is flushing a necessary step?

Flushing is a common practice among cannabis growers in which plants are fed nothing but water for the last week or two weeks of growth. According to Vinkovetsky, the need for flushing comes only from overfeeding and can be eliminated entirely.

“If you fed properly, to the amount the plant can use without overdoing it, there is no reason to flush,” he explained. Moreover, “if you have overfed your plants for 10, 12, 15 weeks,” he continued, “it’s not going to make much of a difference to flush for a week with plain water.”

Still, however, there are some instances when flushing can be beneficial, such as when a plant is overfed. And for those looking to better maintain their plant without overfeeding, Vinkovetsky recommends living soil, a growing method centered on the microbial life inside the soil.

“If you can have a medium that feeds itself and [then you] add organic material on top, you can improve your soil year after year,” he noted, adding that living soil has benefits relating to cost, the environment, and the overall healthy development of the plant.

To cure or not to cure

In the podcast, Baughman and Vinkovetsky discussed the definition of curing and the hot debate among growers about this important step.

“I know that when I first started growing, people told me it’s best if you seal it for a year, that’s how you really get it rich. And, and as I grow, I’m like, ah, no, I don’t think that is, I feel like that’s not the best way. I’ve always found like personally that it’s best when it’s fresh when that moisture level is completely, even all across the board.

“To me, curing is [the second] part of the drying process,” explained Vinkovetsky. “I do think there is something to be said for a proper, slow cure because it does bring out subtleties and nuisances, but there are things that can go wrong over time. It’s something you need a lot of time and commitment for… but it is a chemical process that is helpful to the process, and certainly better than just drying the branch and bagging it up and putting it out into the marketplace.”

Notably, Cryo Cure’s patented process drastically truncates the time and space required in the traditional hang dry and curing process. Cryo Cure machines not only cut curing time down to as little as 12 hours, but they also eliminate the risk of human error.

“A lot of places just don’t… really see that the drying process takes up as much space as it does,” noted Baughman. “We’re taking out the guesswork. [With Cryo Cure] you just walk right up to the plant and say, it’s ready, and you know exactly what you’re getting.”

What does a judge look for in a cannabis competition?

The culmination of all the hard work in the grow room is, of course, quality cannabis flower. As a longtime and seasoned cannabis flower competition judge, Vinkovetsky shared his first-hand insight into what makes for award-winning flower, including:

  • Appearance:  In addition to inspecting the full buds, Vinkovetsky breaks up the cannabis to gain a full grasp of its constitution. “I’ll use a microscope to get in and see maturity level, actual glandular trichomes; make sure they are not broken off or clear or all amber, so I know that it was properly timed and picked when ripe,” Vinkovetsky said.
  • Aroma: After inspecting the appearance of the bud, Vinkovetsky then grinds up the flower to smell its essence. “I think many of the subtleties and nuisances come out then,” he noted. “I roll it up into a rolling paper and take a dry hit to see what that tastes like without lighting it.”
  • How the cannabis burns: Vinkovetsky also checks flower for “burnability.,” or the way it burns once lit. “I do like it to burn cleanly, not have to re-light,” he explained. “[A] nice wispy ash is good and a sign of proper, light feeding.”
  • Flavor: Flavor, of course, is essential. Does it taste good at the beginning? Does it lose flavor over time, or does that flavor remain consistent for the whole session? Vinkovetsky said he checks for this as well while assessing flower.
  • Effects: Lastly, Vinkovetsky says, he sits back and absorbs how it makes him feel. How long-lasting is the effect? Does it come on super strong early and fade quickly, or does it creep up and linger for some time?

While all of these factors go into judging, Vinkovetsky said the overall experience is what matters.

“The aroma, the burnability, the effect – Is this something I’d be happy to pay for?” he said.

Listen to the whole interview with Daniel Vinkovetsky

Overall, Vinkovetsky says it’s important to remember that there is no perfect way to grow.

“We are still just scratching the surface of what this plant is capable of and what we can learn from it,” he noted. “I’m sure there is way more I will continue to learn from, but it is important to understand myths and why certain things are done in certain ways.”

You can listen to the full episode with Daniel Vinkovetsy by clicking here. Future episodes will be released across podcast platforms.

The Cold Truth Episode 1: Women In Cannabis  

The Cold Truth Episode 1: Women In Cannabis  

At Cryo Cure, we’re redefining what’s possible for the cannabis industry. In this video and podcast series from Cryo Cure founders Tracee McAfee and Greg Baughman, cannabis industry myths are explored, debunked, and retold to help the world understand the ever-changing cannabis landscape and explore the beauty and magic of the plant.

On the inaugural episode of Cryo Cure’s The Cold Truth podcast, Cryo Cure CEO Tracee McAfee sat down with Jennifer Whetzel and Rachelle Gordon, Founder and Partner respectively of the recently published Women in Cannabis study. Passionate about empowering women in the cannabis space, both Whetzel and Gordon have combined their efforts to produce a groundbreaking, mixed-method research project highlighting the unique yet shared experiences of women working in the emerging industry.

Catch a quick summary of that conversation below and watch the full interview on YouTube.

Why women in weed?

On the podcast, Whetzel explained that while data about women in cannabis exists, the Women in Cannabis Study is the most comprehensive dataset that speaks directly to the experiences of women who enter the cannabis industry. When asked what motivated her to create the study, Whetzel said the proof is in the pudding.

“I was thinking about all of the stories [good and bad] that I was hearing on social media about women’s experiences in cannabis,” Whetzel explained. “All of these stories are great anecdotes, but as we know, [and] we keep being told in cannabis, anecdotes aren’t data.”

With a background in marketing, data, and consumer research, Whetzel knew she wanted to gather data that would help her understand women’s experiences, not just working in the cannabis industry, but understanding them as people forming the groundwork of a brand new industry. Whetzel said that information is a must for providing a complete understanding of bringing new women into the cannabis space as consumers, employees, and business owners.

The commonality of consumption

The Women in Cannabis Study recruited participants through social media, word of mouth, and various PR tactics, with around 820 women expressing interest in participating. Following rigorous scientific processes, however, the qualitative interviews narrowed down the pool to 23 ideal subjects. The results were published in a .pdf, complete with video components that interviewed some subjects on camera.

Whether said there were several surprises, with some of the most interesting ones surrounding consumption.

“We did a follow-up study with current and curious consumers in legal states,” said Whetzel. “We talked to thousands of women so we actually could compare ‘industry insiders’ to consumers, those who were curious and have tried before, and those who were curious and never tried before.”

The study found that 69% of industry insiders used cannabis daily compared to 59% of general consumers. And further, tha the majority of women who work in cannabis are using it for general emotional health and wellness, patience, and stress relief.

Representation by the numbers

While both Whetzel and Gordon noted that they don’t see a lot of barricades based on gender, they have noticed a heavy male presence on the cultivation and processing end of the industry. According to Whetzel, the sample indicated that women tend to gravitate towards creative and support roles — with about 23% in retail, 22% in coaching, and just 17% in growing or cultivation roles.

McAfee noted that in about the four years Cryo Cure has conducted demonstrations at their Michigan headquarters, only two women in cultivation and processing walked through the door.

“It’s very few women I see in these positions, which I find surprising in a way. I do, however, see a great deal of women in the purchasing, marketing, and sales areas when I go to the corporate headquarters,” McAfee said.

Despite these smaller numbers, Gordon shared that she found it most interesting that the vast majority of women feel successful in the cannabis industry, even if they feel there’s room for improvement in terms of equity and gender parity.

“I think that is truly inspiring and speaks to the resilience and dynamic nature of the women in this space who have a passion for the plant and who want to keep going, no matter the obstacles they face,” she noted.

Creating space for women’s leadership

While there may not be a clear path just yet as to the best way to create more space for women in C-level positions in cannabis, Gordon pointed to the data in the Women in Cannabis Study as a crucial starting point for this important work.

“I don’t have all of the answers – no one does – but this Women in Cannabis study could be a great catalyst to enact some of that change and develop those answers,” Gordon said.

Whetzel developed a 3-pronged approach to enact change for those looking for direction: finding opportunity within, active allyship, and observing what the cannabis industry can change to help more women advance.

“Consider how your connections and introductions can help others,” Whetzel said.

Listen to the whole interview with Women in Cannabis Study leadership

Each episode of The Cold Truth is released on YouTube. You can listen to the Women in Cannabis Study episode by clicking here. Future episodes will be released across podcast platforms.