Article by Matthew Black, CBC News
Jamie Shaw wasn’t seeking a career change when she visited her doctor to help her deal with anxiety.
To her surprise, she was encouraged to try medical marijuana and visit the B.C. Compassion Club Society.
“I thought it was the funniest damn thing I ever heard,” she said, adding she didn’t expect to be prescribed marijuana.
She took her doctor’s advice, left her career in the film industry and in less than two decades went from a newcomer in the city’s cannabis scene to one of its leaders and strongest advocates.
“Going to the club, that changed everything about how I approach cannabis.”
Shaw now works as government relations director for MMJ Canada, a chain of dispensaries with locations in B.C. and Ontario, while also helping industry newcomers secure proper business licences.
Recreational marijuana is scheduled to become legal across Canada this summer. And with StatsCan estimating Canadians spent a whopping $5.7 billion on marijuana last year, the business is rife with leadership and business opportunities, spurring hopes that women could play key roles in the emerging industry.
While B.C. is home to some of the Canadian cannabis industry’s most influential women, financing and gender stereotypes leave others struggling to find their own path to leadership positions, resulting in an industry that near its outset resembles many other male-dominated business sectors.
“It’s not that the conversation hasn’t been had,” says Shaw of women’s involvement in the industry. “It’s just that it doesn’t seem to be registering anywhere or leading to anything.”