When the 2018 Farm Bill passed, making hemp and CBD legal (so long as it contains less than 0.3% TCH by weight), explosive consumer growth followed. According to a study by Eaze, first-time cannabis users increased by 140%, and women, with an estimated $40 trillion in global consumer spending under their control, made up 38% of all cannabis users in the United States.
This has created a gold rush of companies infusing CBD into products targeted at female consumers, like sunscreen, lipgloss and lubricant with aphrodisiac properties. But it’s also opened up a pathway for ancillary businesses across the supply chain, point of sale, wellness, venture capital and technology. And, interestingly, many of the power players behind these companies are women.
Here are 9 female entrepreneurs that are shaping the future of the $16.9B cannabis industry.
Enterprise Resource Planning: Jessica Billingsley, CEO of MJ Freeway
Billingsley started in cannabis by investing in a Colorado dispensary, which introduced her to the lack of software designed for growers to efficiently scale their businesses. She created MJ Freeway’s seed-to-sale technology, allowing cannabis manufacturers to track their data and business analytics so they can scale.
Billingsley’s enterprise resource planning software helps growers control expenses, track their compliance requirements, maximize their profits and increase yield. They also offer consulting services across compliance, go-to-market strategy, customer acquisition and retention and data analysis.
With 9 years in the cannabis industry and over 2,000 clients in Australia, Canada, Europe, South America, Switzerland and 23 states in the United States, MJ Freeway has tracked more than $13B in sales. They have seen a 226% increase in revenue over three years and raised a $10M Series C round,led by Batu Capital Investments, in September of 2018.
Production and Dispensing: Beth Stravola, Chief Strategy Officer of iAnthus
Stravola is a former Wall Street executive turned serial entrepreneur who has founded multiple cannabis brands, including Stavola Medical Marijuana Holdings, Health for Life Inc., GreenMart of Nevada, GreenMart of Maryland, Elemental Health Group of Pennsylvania, and CBD For Life. With a footprint on both the East and West Coast, many of Stravola’s companies were acquired by MPX Bioceutical Corporation of Canada in a package deal for $25M. The acquisition of MPX, where Stravola was acqui-hired into the COO role, by iAnthus was reportedly to gain access to Stravola’s expansive cannabis properties and to her talent. The combined company now has 64 retail locations and 15 cultivation and processing facilities operating in 11 states and reaching over 121 million potential customers.
Stravola has been named the 3rd on Cannabis Business Executive’s list of the 75 Most Important Women in Cannabis.
Published: April 18, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News