In the male-dominated world of marijuana retail, a group of women is cultivating a more inclusive, more welcoming environment for female consumers interested in working with weed.
Scottsdale resident Lilach Mazor Power owns Arizona’s sole dispensary boasting majority female ownership and her team includes several women who grow cannabis for the 8-year-old Giving Tree company, which recently celebrated the grand opening of its new location in Phoenix on March 5.
The new open-concept 2,400 square-foot dispensary is optimized for product exploration and social engagement. It features a lounge-like ambience and interactive, shareable elements intended to make customers feel comfortable and welcome to linger.
The former dispensary operation in Phoenix will be converted to expand cultivation and triple production capacity.
“I think women can have a significant voice,” Mazor Power said. “Diversity is a positive thing in any industry.”
Mazor Power’s team includes grower Haley McAleer, integrated pest management specialist and grower Patti King and laboratory manager Katarina Park, among others.
McAleer, who works in the cultivation department, has been with Giving Tree for five years and said “I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to start my career.”
“I am in charge of the mother room, vegetative department, and help in the flower department as well,” she continued. “I come to work every day surrounded by amazing people who all share the same love and passion for cannabis and what we do.”
King was initially hesitant to pursue cannabis as a career but was attracted to the small, woman-owned company.
“A lot of the agriculture industry is dominated by males,” King said. “I believe that women help propel the industry to be well balanced.
“I believe that, in the industry, a strong representation from women from the start creates a fairer work climate and that it shows that women can be just as successful as men, whereas other industries don’t necessarily offer that or make it easy to happen.”
According to Marijuana Business Daily data, roughly 36 percent of all C-Suite positions in the cannabis industry were occupied by women in 2015. That number dropped in just two years to 27 percent, partly because of the lack of funding for women-led companies.
“This is definitely more of a men’s world,” Mazor Power said.
When Mazor Power started her business in 2013, she said the industry was more promising than today, explaining, “As time went by, this is not an easy business. It is high risk, and it is mostly men.
“There are so many challenges with running a startup business and a startup industry and you have to be resilient, you have to love the risk that comes with it and you have to continue working hard to make it happen. And I think a lot of women said, ‘We’re done with that. We’re done with the struggle.’”
One professional who welcomed – and weathered – the challenge was Park, the Giving Tree’s laboratory manager.
Park started in the cannabis space six years ago, following 11 years spent in the pharmacology field.
“I was attracted to the creativity and freedom that was allowed for product development and was able to apply my education and work experience to achieve unique products,” she said.
Park built the lab from scratch and has developed her own methods to produce the highest quality consumer products.
“There are not many like her in the whole country,” Mazor Power said. “So, to have an extract woman that is actually management is incredible.”
Giving Tree also supports local, women-owned companies, like Hippie Chicks, a Scottsdale-based CBD and edibles company that started four years ago and has now has its products in 44 dispensaries statewide.
Hippie Chicks has expanded its offerings to include a THC medical line.
“With the legalization of recreational, we have definitely had a boost in sales. All of our 10 mg products have been selling out,” said Carmen Toma, Hippie Chicks president.
Toma got its kitchen license when the pandemic hit.
“So, we took our time during that period to make sure our packaging and products were ready and state compliant if recreational were to happen,” Toma said, noting that when recreational marijuana became legal, “many edibles companies were not ready with testing or packaging for low-dose mg products.”
“So, for about a month, we were one of a handful of edibles companies with recreational products available.”
And while Hippie Chicks is successful now selling low-dose edibles geared toward women, it was challenging selling their brand to dispensaries.
“Everyone else in the industry was going with higher dosage milligrams,” Toma said. “We wanted to stay low-dose for newbies and women who are afraid of trying edibles.”
Toma said Mazor Power “is an inspiration to women in the cannabis industry for being able to obtain and execute a fully integrated license, meaning she is growing her own flower.”
“The patient care is one of the best in town, always making sure they address patient concerns and talk you through all the products available,” she added.
The Giving Tree is a vertically integrated seed-to-sale cannabis company that prides itself in taking the time to educate consumers, especially females, on how cannabis can be incorporated into their lives.
“This is why we created a place that would feel safe and comfortable for women,” Mazor Power said.
Currently, the company’s customers are 60 percent male and 40 percent female; however, Mazor Power hopes more women will shop at her store.
“Shifting so many women to a much better lifestyle has been phenomenal,” she said. “Female customers are more open about talking about how cannabis can help them. Our customers are open to hear more and more about how cannabis can be integrated into their lifestyle.”
Giving Tree is creating its own cannabis menopause product, which they hope to release in May.
But Giving Tree isn’t just about helping female customers. It’s also about how helping its female employees in a growing industry.
“If you have a passion for cannabis and helping others, then this industry is an amazing opportunity for women to get involved in,” McAleer said. “This industry is so new and still being created, it’s the catalyst we have been waiting for to smash the glass ceiling and challenge the patriarchal model.”