There are a lot of high hopes as we await Canadian legislation legalizing cannabis this summer. As everybody knows, in the United States, structural biases favoring white men have resulted in the disproportionate exclusion of women and people of color from the highest positions in the cannabis industry (even if there is a higher percentage of female leadership in cannabis than in other industries.) Canada’s cannabis industry is no different. Even so, there are women way-makers forging a path toward a more inclusive future. Here are 10 women leading the way in Canada’s legal cannabis industry.
As Director of Patient Advocacy and Education for Canopy Growth, a Canadian licensed producer, Hilary Black offers her extensive knowledge about cannabis and patient care to help shape policy and physician education. Black is a well-known pioneer in Canadian cannabis—in 1997, she founded the British Columbia Compassion Club Society (BCCCS), the first medical cannabis dispensary in the country. Since then, Black has worked tirelessly to make cannabis accessible to medical patients. For her significant contributions to Canadian society through her advocacy for medical cannabis, Black was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award.
Hiring legal counsel is par for the course when you become an entrepreneur. Industry-specializing lawyers play an enormous role in helping business owners comply with regulations. In Canada, Brazeau Seller Law’s Trina Fraser has become the go-to attorney when it comes to finding a place in the rapidly maturing cannabis industry. From the beginning of Canada’s privatization of cannabis production, Fraser has been fielding calls from entrepreneurial clients who saw the business opportunity presented by the emerging industry. Even though most law firms were reticent to publicly advertise advisement on cannabis law, Fraser boldly chose to take on the challenge. As a result, she is widely regarded as the most sought-after cannabis business legal expert today.
Jamie Shaw has been a cannabis advocate for almost 20 years, serving as Director of the BC Compassion Club, President of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries, and co-founding Canada’s first chapter of Women Grow. But this was a path she never thought she would have traversed before she took her first steps into the world of cannabis. Her doctor recommended she use cannabis to treat her debilitating anxiety, and Shaw’s initial reaction was shock. However, after experiencing frustrating side-effects with other therapies, she took his advice and hasn’t looked back since. Today, Shaw is Government Relations Director for MMJ Canada, a position that allows her to help ensure that regulations are reasonable for cannabis businesses.