Take a look at businesses within any sector of the cannabis industry and you’ll surely find some powerhouse women at the helm.  According to MJBiz Daily’s 2019 survey, 37% of cannabis industry executives were women, compared to the nation’s 21% average across all industries.  While this number is impressive, it’s also been fluctuating over preceding years.  We still have a long way to go for equal representation and ownership in the industry.

This gives us even more of a reason to shine a light on Women in Cannabis!  As National Women’s History Month comes to a close, Medically Correct would like to acknowledge the inspirational female leaders making an impact in Colorado and beyond.  While there are hundreds of influential ladies fully deserving of praise, we whittled it down to the following eight leading women who’ve been making a difference in the cannabis industry.  They represent various sectors such as retail, research, media, politics, events, and investing.

Wanda James

Wanda is the co-founder and CEO of Simply Pure Dispensary in Denver, CO, the first black-owned legal cannabis dispensary in the United States, alongside her husband.  She is a leading advocate in the cannabis industry whose political, professional, and financial work within cannabis reform has gained her prestigious coverage in numerous national and international media.  As the managing partner at the Cannabis Global Initiative, a marketing and consulting firm, she specializes in public relations, regulation and political outreach.  Previous to her career in cannabis, Wanda worked on the National Finance Committee for former President Obama, served as a lieutenant in the US Navy, and sat on the board of directors of several organizations.

Wanda James, founder of Simply Pure Cannabis Dispensary, the first black-owned dispensary in the United States. Wanda is considered one of the most influential Women In Cannabis.
A headshot of Sally Vander Veer, the co-owner and CEO of Medicine Man, one of Colorado's most successful cannabis dispensaries

Sally Vander Veer

Sally is the CEO and Co-owner of Medicine Man, a leading Colorado-based cannabis company she helped her two younger brothers launch back in 2013.  With degrees in business and chemistry, and a few careers previous to Medicine Man, her knowledge and expertise has been paramount to evolving their company to the forefront of the industry in Colorado.  She shared with the CO Women’s Chamber of Commerce that her favorite inspirational quote is “Hustle in silence and let your success make the noise,” which is a great reflection of the humility she weaves into her work ethic.  Fun fact – she was a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire back in 2008, taking home $16K!

Dr. Sue Sisley

Sue is an Arizona-based physician & the Site Principal Investigator at the Scottsdale Research Institute.  She leads WeCan Study, the only FDA approved cannabis trial for veterans with PTSD.  In recent years, she’s made headlines for her ground-breaking clinical trials, through which she is aiming to gather sound data on the efficacy of cannabis for PTSD.

Sue has an indestructible dedication pioneering cannabis research in the U.S.  Not only is she heading up a lawsuit against the DEA to federally reschedule cannabis, she also publicly called out the government regarding the poor quality of plant matter that federal law requires scientists to use in their limited, FDA approved cannabis studies (which makes a huge difference in the results that everyone is basing important personal and professional decisions upon).

Dr. Sue Sisley is a famed cannabis researcher studying the efficacy of cannabis as a PTSD treatment. She's recognized as one of the most influential Women In Cannabis.
A headshot of Jamie Perino, owner of Euflora

Jamie Perino

Jamie is the co-founder of Euflora, nick-named “the Apple store of weed.”  Her background in architecture and construction afforded her the ability to lock in an optimal location for her first store in downtown Denver and create an aesthetic concept that hadn’t yet been conceived in this space.  She was featured on MSBNC as a Pot Baron, telling the story of how she cashed in her 401K from a successful career in the building industry.  Time has certainly shown this was a great move for her to make!

Kendal Norris

Kendal is the founder of Mason Jar Event Group, based in Boulder, CO.  A Mason Jar is a southern cultural symbol of holidays, good times, and things that bond together new friends and old.  Such an appropriate symbol for this true community builder, who was featured on the Today Show for her curated events which include Colorado’s finest indulgences, top chefs and musicians, and picturesque venues.  Kendal crafts one-of-a-kind, upscale experiences that are thoughtfully paired with high-quality cannabis strains, touching upon all the senses and creating unique memories that last a lifetime.

A headshot of Kendal Norris, founder of Mason Jar Event Group which specializes in upscale cannabis events and parties.
A headshot of Khadijah Adams, a serial entrepreneur who specializes in cannabis and women empowerment through her Girl Get That Money program.

Khadijah Adams

Khadijah is an entrepreneur, investor, author, and motivational speaker…not to mention she’s also a single mother of four sons.  In early 2020, after resigning from her position as COO of CE Hutton, a minority-focused cannabis development firm, she founded the business empowerment and coaching movement, Girl Get That Money.  She has the mission to empower women in business by providing them with the resources and tools needed to help them become successful.  Her personal philosophy is, “Girls Compete but Women Empower!”

Beth Kotarba

Beth is the Chief Operating Officer of one of Colorado’s largest dispensary chains, Native Roots, whose company purpose is to Liberate Happiness.  Her entire career up until joining NR was consulting within a variety of industries.  Leveraging her extensive experience in helping businesses solve their challenges, she’s been able to successfully lead their vertically integrated operations including cultivation, harvest, product manufacturing and supply chain.  Belief in herself and confidence in her abilities has afforded her this role and as she shared with Authority Magazine, she has never used the fact that she is a woman as an excuse for challenges in her progression.

Beth Kotarba is the COO of Native Roots Dispensary, one of the most successful chain dispensaries in Colorado.
A headshot of Mary Jane Gibson, the previous editor of High Times Magazine and now co-host of the popular Weed + Grub podcast.

Mary Jane Gibson

“One of the most intriguing women in Cannabis”, says Forbes about Mary Jane in a 2019 article.  She is an actress, writer, and former lifestyle-entertainment and culture editor at High Times.  Traversing the world since 2007 to track the legalization of medical marijuana, adult-use cannabis, and CBD, you can imagine she has a lot of interesting things to say!  You can find her work in Rolling Stone, Leafly, and DOPE, and in her top-rated Weed + Grub podcast she co-hosts along with Mike Glazer.

We are certainly grateful for the vast contributions these women have made to the industry. While the status quo in the business world is still male dominant, with all the focused energy from these ladies and so many others, present and future, we are excited to see how the marijuana industry grows and evolves.   And one thing is for sure, we envision a future of equality!

Read more about all things cannabis at MedicallyCorrect.com.