Article by Kate Robertson, Growth Op
It was a certainty. Canada’s cannabis industry was going to be enormous. It was supposed to create more than 150,000 jobs with products and brands that would disrupt the booze sector, smash the stoner culture stigma and heal the masses with therapeutic and pain-relieving innovations.
It was also supposed to shatter the glass ceiling. The potential to rebrand weed as a wellness tool was particularly appealing to women’s media, eager to spot the next Goop. With headlines like, “Is it time to quit your job and work in weed?” and “I traded my job for a cannabis start-up,” they presented the burgeoning cannabis industry as an opportunity-filled landscape readied for Canadian women to move in. Unlike tech or finance, women were already on the frontlines of activism, compassion clubs, home-growing and research — the same barriers that existed in other sectors didn’t seem to apply, and being open-minded to cannabis seemed like the only prerequisite.
Unfortunately, cannabis legalization did not go as planned. A bumpy retail rollout, the sophisticated illicit market, expensive and confusing regulations and poorly allocated venture capital have combined to create a toxic brew of challenges. Seemingly overnight, startup founders became CEOs and managers — without any experience managing people or the massive sums of money at their disposal.
As for women in the industry, jobs at weed startups have been guttingly disappointing.