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the women of weed councilThis March was the first Women of Weed (WOW) meeting, a council of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, and what a great launch it was! The meeting was an intimate boardroom-style discussion with 15 women in the cannabis industry, representing a variety of industry careers, including science, dispensary management, compliance, consulting, packaging. Sally Kent Esq., an associate in The Denver law offices of industry leader Vicente Sederberg, lead a full table of women in the cannabis industry through the technical web of common compliance misunderstandings, the differences between working with an attorney vs. working with a compliance consulting firm, and some of her personal insights regarding women in the (cannabis) workplace.

 

Women, Negotiating, and Employment Contracts

After introductions, Sally graciously lead a discussion on common mistakes she’s noticed women in the cannabis industry making – first up: the simple (almost obvious) need for an employment contract, both as an employee and an employer. Anecdotally, Sally has noticed female employees (at every level) seem less likely to request – let alone demand – an official employment contract.

Sally’s not alone in her observations. In fact, according to a powerful Forbes article discussing the sensitive topic of women negotiation in the workplace, “fewer than 26% of women feel comfortable negotiating compared to nearly 40% of men. [Whether] we like it or not, women tend to over-value relationships and under-value ourselves in the workplace, [a] troubling pairing of behaviors that keep us from successful negotiations.”

 

Cannabis Protection: Compliance is a Whole New Ballgame

Protecting yourself is a a common theme for women in the workplace, but for marijuana business owners and operators there’s a whole new level of preventative measures necessary to keep you and your business safe – especially when it comes to staying compliant with the ever changing rules and regulations of the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED).

Sally recommends either working closely with an attorney or compliance consultant, but noted that a compliance consultant isn’t protected by client/attorney privilege, so whatever reports the compliance agency completes could end up as evidence in court one day. Another route many savvy licensed business owners have taken is finding an “in-house” compliance manager – someone who can dig in, obsess about, worry about, and implement business-wide changes as policy continues to evolve.

The first step to becoming your own expert is to read the statutes & regulations that apply to your business (although Sally recommends reading the information in its entirety), which can be found for both Medical & Retail Marijuana businesses in Colorado on the MED website. 

Looking for More Help with Compliance?

The Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce Compliance Council was set up to help the owners and operators of licensed marijuana businesses collaborate to interpret rules, laws, and best practices. Together the council is working to create reasonable and sensible rule changes to address all compliance issues. Interested in getting involved?   Learn More

 

It Gets Personal – Some Closing Thoughts

When the conversation shifted to the most public side of being a woman in cannabis, the ladies shared their thoughts on “coming out of the cannabis closet” – to their families, friends, and press. Among the stories of hesitations, triumphs and often hilarious fumbles, there was enormous compassion and acceptance across the table for the variety of experiences in running or working for cannabis businesses.

But it isn’t all roses – especially when coupled with women (or the potential of scandal!) stories pertaining to cannabis companies are an easy sell to the press, and Sally stressed the importance of individual women in the cannabis industry realizing the level of exposure they have, and to pay careful attention to how they present themselves as women and professionals – especially when it comes to the media.

 

For an hour across a boardroom table, 15 very different women with one major thing in common discussed what it means to be a women in cannabis, got sound advice from an experienced cannabis attorney, and supported each others individual professional goals. The WOW council is off to a great start – and we can’t wait to see what’s next!

 

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