One Woman’s Perspective on the Women Grow Leadership Summit
Women Grow. And this massive industry might be the first to be dominated by women.
Two clear messages of the awe-inspiring Women Grown Leadership Summit. As a woman in the industry it was a privilege to attend the event, which promised to be insightful but exceeded expectations. An opera house full of over a thousand women, including some big names like Lynette Shaw and Melissa Etheridge, sounds intimidating yet each one was as powerful as the next. In a TED Talks style, the event was jam packed with acumen. Big names, big ideas, and big stories all offering an array of wisdom, with one commonality – Empowerment.Lynette Shaw founder of Marin Alliance in 1997, the first licensed dispensary in the nation blew me away. She’s been “fighting the good fight for medical marijuana rights” for nearly 20 years. And in October last year, she won. The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, a Congressional law, which prevents the Department of Justice from going after a lawful state-legal cannabis business, aided in the win, prevents the government from prosecuting Shaw and her dispensary. “The ruling could discourage the DoJ [Department of Justice] from creative interpretations of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment going forward, which should let medical marijuana businesses and their patients in 23 states breathe a sigh of relief.”1
Shaw is responsible for how this will ripple throughout the community and nation. Her countless hours and endless questioning will be the reason we have the medicine we need throughout the US. It just goes to show that hard work really does pay off. As the audience stood to applaud her incredible achievement with gratitude, she humbly and quickly stated, “We still have so far to go.”
Moriah Barnhart brought the audience to tears with the pure truth of just how far we have yet to come. Her daughter, misdiagnosed by pediatricians with ADD was admitted to the emergency room and properly diagnosed with brain cancer. Almost immediately, submitted for surgery to remove a brain tumor, followed by chemo, and an endless list of drugs, all at the age of two. In her second admission to the hospital for surgery, Moriah’s daughter was refused anesthesia due to her short and unusual sleep cycles. For this particular operation, they would be drilling into the scull.
Seeing her daughter in the most pain a human can endure, Moriah had had enough. She secretly and illegally imported cannabis for her daughter and for the first time in her life, she slept through the night. Within one month her daughter returned home and began leading a normal childhood. Her daughter, now five years old, is alive and happy. “If I hadn’t questioned authority, empowered myself and taken charge, I know my daughter would not be alive today.” Shaken to the core, the crowd expelled an adulated applause for her strength, aggressive involvement and ardent drive to found CannaMoms.
Blown away, I must ask how can we still be depriving individuals of what they need?
When the federal government finally makes a change and decides to fully decriminalize marijuana, what will happen? Sheri Orlowitz, former Assistant US Attorney, provided a great perspective, imploring the audience to protect themselves. She explained, “right now, you’re protected, the second it becomes legal, you’ll be held accountable for everything.” She exclaims how businesses need to be operating in a fully compliant manner — today.
photo credit: @strainz
Working in DC directly with government officials, Orlowitz is close to it all and has her finger on the pulse. She offered excellent advice in legal, financial and leadership strategies. “Everything starts with meticulous books and records, and you must have a good CPA.” This perspective of building, or perhaps restructuring, one’s business to be fully compliant today so it continues to hold strong tomorrow, after marijuana is legalized, is not a perspective many consider. This is how businesses should be thinking.
Soaking in the empowering words of more than 30 speakers all exclaiming, “if I can do it, you can do it!” I left this year’s Leadership Summit filled with yummy pearls of wisdom and a deep comfort. Realizing, Women Grow and all of its members are totally aligned in a future vision of the industry. A vision, which I personally share, as does the entire team at Jane. A vision of empowerment.
Oh, and of course, it doesn’t hurt to be one of the many great women leading at Jane.