Celebrating trailblazing women in cannabis

| Sarah Clark

As the cannabis industry continues its march forward, it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the significant contributions of women leaders who are helping to shape its trajectory. In recognition of International Women’s Day on March 8, StratCann had the privilege of connecting with several female trailblazers in the Canadian cannabis sector to glean insights into their experiences and perspectives.

In the primarily male-dominated landscape of the cannabis industry, women continue to face a myriad of challenges, ranging from underrepresentation and limited access to funding to grappling with the pervasive influence of “bro culture” alongside the struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Despite these obstacles, women-owned brands are redefining industry standards by fostering collaboration, innovation, and mentorship to create a lasting impact beyond gender.

Limited Access to Funding

Access to funding remains a persistent barrier for women-owned businesses in the legal cannabis market. Katie Pringle, CEO of Marigold Marketing & PR, aptly points out, “Funding for women-owned businesses remains a challenge, one of the reasons we don’t see as many founders. Additionally, cannabis is a male-dominated industry, which we know makes the advancement of women, though proven profitable, more challenging.” The lack of capital not only stifles the growth of women-owned brands but also perpetuates the dominance of larger players in the market.

Audrey Wong, CEO & Founder of Zyre Brands, recognizes challenges as opportunities for innovation and growth. Having navigated obstacles firsthand, Wong remains steadfast in her commitment to reshaping industry standards and fostering inclusivity. Wong reminds us, “It’s not just about being woman-owned; it’s about creating a legacy that transcends gender, inspiring others to pursue their dreams in an industry that historically hasn’t been the most inclusive.”

“Bro Culture”

Another prevalent issue within the cannabis industry is the entrenched “bro culture” that permeates the sector. Jen Meyers, CEO & Founder of Zelca Ltd., emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and addressing this to foster inclusivity and diversity.

“By creating an environment where everyone feels respected and valued, irrespective of gender, we can promote diversity, encourage collaboration, and foster empathy among all members,” shares Meyers.

A common theme that emerged from this outreach is the importance and value of mentorship. Building strong networks with both mentors and peers can only benefit the industry as a whole. Katie Pringle shared, “I had the benefit of having a talented female leadership at Corus Entertainment in my mid-20s. I didn’t realize at the time how special and unique it was to work under a strong team of women. I loved it. I still get together with these women and value their support and inspiration 15 years later.”


The stigma surrounding cannabis use further compounds the challenges faced by some women in the industry. Despite legalization, lingering perceptions of cannabis as an illegal substance persist, often creating barriers for women seeking products for various purposes. Mainstream retailers, combined with current advertising restrictions, often overlook the unique needs of women consumers, making it challenging for women-owned brands to connect with their target audience.

“Advertising restrictions make it challenging for brands to connect with these women, and retail environments frequently fail to cater to their needs. For instance, cannabis-using mothers often feel unsupported and stigmatized. Addressing these issues presents an opportunity for brands and retailers to create inclusive spaces where women feel empowered to prioritize their wellness without judgment,” shared Meyers.

Balancing work and life

Oana Cappellano, President and Co-Founder at Eggs Canna Group Holdings, also highlights the additional challenge of maintaining work-life balance for women entrepreneurs in the cannabis space. Juggling professional responsibilities with family obligations can be overwhelming, leaving many women struggling to prioritize their well-being amidst competing demands.

“In addition to navigating the challenging cannabis industry, women are faced with the added responsibility of still being mothers, wives, primary caregivers and homemakers. This additional burden is beyond exhausting, and many women entrepreneurs find it challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance amidst these demands,” Cappalleno points out.

Yet despite these hurdles, women in the cannabis industry continue to exhibit resilience, determination, and unwavering commitment to their work, with optimism for the future and stories of success as women entrepreneurs collectively strive for change.

Celebrating women’s contributions

In recognition of International Women’s Day, let’s take a moment to celebrate and honour the invaluable contributions of women in the cannabis industry. Their entrepreneurial spirit, advocacy efforts, and commitment to innovation are reshaping the industry landscape and driving positive change.

In the words of Oana Cappellano, “I am proud of all the women entrepreneurs in the cannabis sector who are reshaping the industry with their resilience and determination.” 

Explore and support the women-owned brands that contribute to the growth and diversity of the cannabis industry. Through their continued efforts, these trailblazers pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable future in the cannabis industry.