Twelve High Chicks thanks regular guest contributor Tracy Curley for this article.
When Lisa Campbell, Chair of the newly formed Toronto chapter of Women Grow, approached me about being on the steering committee for their Signature Launch event I was more than a little hesitant. After being a founding member of the dysfunctional and now barely visible NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada, I had no interest in women’s groups or gender politics of any kind. But I like and respect the women involved and I wanted to support them.
So what is Women Grow?
Women Grow was created to connect, educate, inspire, and empower the next generation of cannabis industry leaders by creating programs, events, and a community for aspiring and current business executives. Founded in 2014 in Denver, Women Grow is a for-profit entity that serves as a catalyst for women to influence and succeed in the field as the end of marijuana prohibition occurs on a national scale.
Together we have more power. Cannabis use is growing on a national and global scale. Women have the opportunity to build this new North American industry and redefine the workplace to create environments in which we can flourish and define our own destiny, and cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Women Grow’s first Canadian Chapter, Women Grow Vancouver, held their fourth event — and more chapters met across the USA — on the same night as Women Grow Toronto’s launch, September tenth.
The evening began at Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation. Posters on the front door and throughout the building directed people to the meeting space that was adorned in Women Grow’s signature red balloons and decor. Wine, cheese, and Unicorn Brand Brownies were set up beautifully by volunteers. Attendees were also welcomed to samples of MJ Creams, the evening’s official event sponsor.
Lisa started off the evening by welcoming a sold-out audience and explaining the mission and mandate of Women Grow.
Co-chair Jenna Valleriani followed with a story about articles she had published regarding the roles of women in the emerging cannabis industry, and how I responded to her both personally and in a written rebuttal via my own op-ed piece. What is delightful about that story is, though there was disagreement, through discourse we both came away from our exchange empowered and with newfound respect for others’ experiences in the industry. To be part of this event with Jenna and Lisa was a privilege and an honour.
The keynote speaker for the evening was lobby-mommy herself, Liam’s Mom Mandy McKnight. Liam, a seven-year-old with a severe form of epilepsy, is one of Canada’s most famous and lovable medical cannabis patients.
I’ve heard Mandy speak at other events but hearing her and Liam’s story is always fascinating and heartbreaking. There is never a dry eye in the house. But what is most impressive is how inspiring this tiny spitfire of a woman truly is to so many moms who refuse to take no for an answer when it comes to the health of their child. Her story and her influence on politicians and lawmakers made her a perfect fit for this introductory event.
As stated before I was trepidatious about joining another group — a decade in the activism field can leave you jaded — but as the steering committee smoked joints outside, basking in the afterglow of a successful launch, I couldn’t help but thank them for giving me hope again.
You do not have to be a grower to join Women Grow, or be a woman to attend their events, you just need to have an interest in the growth of the cannabis industry. I met with representatives of corporate licensed-producers, dispensary owners, growers, business owners, patients, and even a few first timers.
The next Women Grow Toronto Signature Networking event takes place October 1st, at the Centre for Social Innovation, 720 Bathurst St. 6-9pm.