Older women are thriving in the cannabis industry — not just as consumers, but also as business leaders. For this demographic, the cannabis industry represents a marketplace not yet completely dominated by men, or for that matter by millennials.
Many female seniors enter the industry after years of personal experience with the plant itself, either as medical marijuana patients or merely as enthusiasts. Jeanine Moss, 62, for instance, founded Annabís, her line of odor-proof luxury handbags, in 2014. At the time, she had undergone hip surgery and was prescribed a number of opioid painkillers. Ultimately, she forwent the painkillers in lieu of medical marijuana. But she wanted to smoke like a lady.
“Everyone was pulling baggies out of their Gucci and Louis Vuitton purses, and I thought, ‘Why are we sneaking around like guilt teenagers?'” Moss says. Hence, she founded Annabís. “These are smart, professional, career-oriented women,” she says of her customers. “They’re a little bit more Prada than they are tye-dye.” While once these baby boomer women might have toked among hippies in their youth, they’ve grown to appreciate more sophisticated taste — which the cannabis products are also coming to reflect.
“There’s no norm here. Everyone is figuring it out together,” Nancy Whiteman, co-owner of Wana Brands, says of the cannabis industry. Her Boulder-based company features edibles, capsules, and extracts. Whereas in other well-established industries men already dominate the market leadership, the cannabis industry has fewer glass ceilings that would keep older women from breaking into it.
Older women are also able to more easily tap into the needs and interests of the growing demographic of baby boomers who comprise a large portion of cannabis consumers. One study found that between 2006 and 2013, there was a 71 percent increase in cannabis use by the over 50 demographic.
Meanwhile, according to Marijuana Business Daily, women comprise 36 percent of executives in the cannabis industry, as compared with 22 percent in other industries.
Especially for baby boomers, the cannabis industry is space toward which they can transfer professional skills from years of working in other fields, such as marketing, management, finance, or consulting. Others who are more crafty or creative have been able to start edible or topical businesses using at-home methodology. Regardless of how older women are applying their skills, the boom in the startup economy is allowing them to pursue new careers entirely or start a business on the side or during retirement.