5 Influential Women in the Cannabis Industry

Stephen Andrews
27 Dec 2022

From activists, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and trendsetters, women have shaped the way of legal cannabis in the U.S. Compared to other sectors, women in the cannabis industry have a more significant representation. In 2019, this representation was almost 40% (well, all of us will be most happy when this number climbs to 50% and more!). In this fast read, learn about five women leaders and the amazing work and energy they bring to the sector.


Inc. Magazine bestowed her as "the most widely recognized female personality in cannabis." Jane West is a familiar face in the cannabis sphere. She is known for her lifestyle brand Jane West and is the founder of the women's cannabis networking organization Women Grow, which hosts various events all year long. More than 100,000 people have been part of her organization's events. The Jane West lifestyle brand specializes in cannabis products for the modern consumer. Women and people of color hold over 80% of West's company. 


She is the first black woman to own a dispensary, Simply Pure. Wanda James is well-known for her focus on social equity and reform in the cannabis sector. She also campaigned for Amendment 64, which ultimately led to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado in 2012. In speaker sessions and cannabis events, James continually speaks about the need for diversity and representation within the industry. She is quick and wit to express her views on cannabis and politics, and she has always used her platform to speak on behalf of people of color disproportionately targeted by the ineffectual War on Drugs.


She is the chair of Women Grow and the first Black female cannabis entrepreneur to run a multi-state operation. She is the CEO of Ilera Holistic Healthcare, a medical cannabis cultivator and manufacturer based in Louisiana, and the CEO of National Holistic Healing Center (NHHC), a leading medical marijuana shop in D.C. For over a decade, Dr. Macias has connected, educated, inspired, and empowered other women leaders across the nation. She is currently also involved in advocacy for common sense federal legalization, tax equity, and banking reform. 


She started as a correctional officer in California but pivoted her career after witnessing the harm caused by the futile War on Drugs. In 1998, Martinez joined advocacy efforts to legalize medical cannabis in Oregon. Subsequently, she opened the iconic Cannabis Cafe in Portland, the first consumption lounge in the state and one of the first safe places where people can use cannabis medicines. Martinez is currently involved in campaigning for federal reform. Her memberships include the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the NORML Women's Alliance.   


She comes from California and is the co-founder of Kiva Confections. Palmer's first venture was a small cannabis garden in the backyard of her childhood house that she maintained with her husband. That first business gave Palmer and her spouse "an appreciation of the art of growing and introduces us to the industry, as well as many shops that we would end up building long-term relationships with," she told in an interview for Forbes. Her current venture, Kiva Confections, is one of the most popular edible brands in the U.S. They are present in California, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and Hawaii. 

On women in the industry, Palmer has an empowering answer: "I am very passionate about women in particular trying cannabis because I've seen firsthand how it can positively impact women's health, wellbeing, and their overall happiness." 

Stephen Andrews