12 Crucial Lessons From Today’s Leading Women in Cannabis

Happenings • April 18, 2022

Panelists Maggie Connors, Nidhi Lucky Handa, Abigail Schnibbe, and Whitney Beatty joined moderator Rosie Mattio in LeafLink’s Women’s History Month Fireside Chat, in honor of Women’s History Month, to discuss the tangible ways women in the cannabis industry want to be supported, and how women looking to advance or begin their cannabis careers can get ahead.

BHM IG Panelists Blog Primary 1

With little progress on the federal legalization of cannabis, business loans and other conventional banking assistance are unavailable to individuals looking to establish or grow their cannabis business. This means that Venture Capital funding is key in the industry.

However, a recent report by the research firm PitchBook, showed that female-led businesses were only awarded 2% of this capital in 2021 – the lowest percentage since 2016. Women-owned cannabis businesses are at a disadvantage, so it’s more important than ever to engage in conversations that further education and truly support women in cannabis at any level.

In honor of Women’s History Month, LeafLink’s Women’s ERG brought together some of the exceptional women working in cannabis, who are breaking the grass ceiling in an industry that presents so many inherent challenges, to highlight the importance of uplifting women in cannabis and what it means to run a business in this new and budding industry.


Featured Panelists:

Rosie Mattio, CEO of Mattio Communications

Maggie Connors, Founder of Besito & Chief Brand Officer for Ascend Wellness Holdings

Nidhi Lucky Handa, Founder & CEO of LEUNE

Abigail Schnibbe, CEO of Plymouth Armor Group

Whitney Beatty, CEO of Apothecarry Brands, CEO of Josephine & Billies, and VP of Supernova Women

This powerful group of women discussed the best ways to start a business in the industry, tips on how to get funding and raise money, the misleading stigma that women are new to cannabis, and the best ways to support women in cannabis — no matter what level they may be in their career.

Check out some key takeaways from this panel discussion, in the words of some of the women who are changing the cannabis game, to learn how you can do your part to create a more equitable industry. You can also watch the full discussion here.

Important Quotes

"I can’t go to BofA, and we’re in positions where this seed money is king right now. VCs are giving 2% of their money to female-led businesses, and if you’re brown like me, black women are getting .0006% of that money." – Whitney Beatty

"Accomplice is more so, where do I need to be, and what do I need to do to support you? Not just ‘go get em’ girls’." – Abby Schnibbe

"The bottom line is – show up with receipts and a lot of them. Have that data, because you have a response for every question to anyone that is going to say ‘no, we’re all set.’ well, here’s the proof, so!" – Abby Schnibbe

"There are absolutely benefits… to being a woman in this space, and carving out a unique voice that is not at the forefront and so I think we need to celebrate that too." – Maggie Connors

"I get that stupid question all the time, where it’s like “oh you just picked all women, eh?” No! These are incredible women who went through interviews for the right, most, exceptional person for the role." – Abby Schnibbe

"Imagery; how models are chosen, what they look like, what they represent – that matters! … We’re at the forefront of making these decisions, and creating this 3.0 version of the consumer [while] showing the masses what that new consumer looks like." – Nidhi Lucky Handa

"I think it’s the little things that really really move the dial the furthest, which is picking up the phone for other women or other minorities. Being a resource, showing up, sharing resources, sharing contacts." – Nidhi Lucky Handa

"There’s still so much more room, and I’d rather be surrounded by people I want to see succeed and that means helping them, and that means showing up and being a resource, so I think it sounds like a small thing, but when I think about the leapfrogs I’ve been able to make in this industry, it’s because people took my call, or answered my texts." – Nidhi Lucky Handa

"Sometimes people think it’s like the CEOs job, and I really think that at all levels choices you make every day can be intersectional. It takes a little more effort – if you’re gonna get a tshirt, instead of the first tshirt company you hear of, how do you look a little further for black-owned swag, or what not?" – Maggie Connors

"I think that women are not new to this; to our industry we are new to transacting with weed, we have been socialized for decades to send our men to deal with the drug dealer, so the act of actually transacting with cannabis is maybe new. Consumption is not." – Nidhi Lucky Handa

"If you’re not the one drinking your own kool aid nobody else is going to be. If you don’t have the passion and the conviction and the data and the whole thing, it doesn’t really matter, but however the hell you get into the room, get in the room, and then be prepared." – Nidhi Lucky Handa

"If you are tired and you are exhausted and you are frustrated, and you are like ‘why am I doing this!?’ please please please look at things like Last Prisoner Project, go and read The New Jim Crow again – ground yourself in … why this work is so important. And then that, I hope, gives you energy for another day." – Abby Schnibbe

Thank you to our panelists for their time and insights. Don’t forget to watch the entire Women’s History Month Fireside Chat for more.

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