MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO)– Seventy women signed up for a networking event Friday that looked like any other. There was coffee and conversation—and cannabis drinks, too.
It was the latest meeting of the Minnesota Women’s Cannabusiness Network that’s seen interest grow since the state legislature, ushering in a legal market with new career opportunities.
Blunt Strategies, a women-owned cannabis public relations and consulting firm, hosted the business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with the hope they will use each other as resources as the new industry gets up and running.
“We want this to be a space that is accessible, approachable and will give you information and access you can’t get anywhere else to other women who want to make the cannabusiness space in Minnesota phenomenal,” said Laura Monn Ginsburg, who’s a partner.
Nationwide, cannabis businesses are dominated by men. Women own just 22% of them, according to an industry report.
Attendees of Friday’s event range from the “canna-curious” to people who already launched hemp-focused businesses that have been around for a few years, Ginsburg said.
Natalie Patera, owner of Sunrise Herbal Apothecary which makes CBD-infused lotions, said she first started coming to the network’s events in 2019 when there wasn’t as much interest—hemp had only just been re-classified at the federal level and recreational marijuana legalization was still years away.
“Every time I show up to an event like this, I take something really good away from it,” she explained.
She’s hoping to find a business partner that will manufacture THC oils that she can use in new products to expand her company.
“It’s so much easier to embrace and connect when you’re just in a group of women,” she said.
It’s legal right now to grow and keep marijuana at home, but businesses like retail stores to manufacturing and cultivation companieswhich could take several more months to fully build out.
In the meantime, Nikki Rohloff, owner of accounting firm Rohloff Associates, is helping people looking to get into the industry navigate hurdles to doing business, like federal tax penalties because marijuana remains an illegal substance and barriers to banking.
For her, the Women’s Cannabusiness Network provides insight from like-minded Minnesotans who want to see others succeed, too.
“We want to all help each other and we’re in different stages,” Rohloff said. “Just having that kind of like mastermind group to be able to bounce ideas off of to talk with what the issues are in the industry—but without this background noise of, ‘well, I want you to do something for me.’ Everyone here is more like, ‘I want to help you grow. And if you win, we all win.'”
This was the first meeting since adult-use cannabis became legal on August 1. They plan to have more meetings in the future when the 2024 legislative session begins.