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The First Woman To Take A Canadian Cannabis Company Public

Following the Canadian Senate’s historic vote to legalize marijuana last week, came another history-making moment from the Canadian cannabis market. Licensed Producer 48North Cannabis Corp. (TSX-V:NRTH) announced on Monday their debut on the TSX Venture exchange, making them the first female lead cannabis producer to be publicly traded in Canada. With Alison Gordon as Chief Executive Officer, the Toronto-based company serves a niche demographic, producing marijuana products for female health and wellness.

48North has an exclusive partnership with MariPharm B.V.  to cultivate cannabis with wholly-owned subsidiary DelShen Therapeutics Corp., which holds a license to produce cannabis in Canada.  With more than 25 years of experience in cannabis space, the Netherlands based company, “has undertaken pioneering work and research into medicinal cannabis, advising the Dutch and other governments on how to establish and manage medicinal cannabis programmes aimed at improving the quality of life and health of its citizens.”  The DelShen facility located in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, will produce unique cannabis genetics through the partnership MariPharm B.V.

48North Corporate Team Handout. (CNW Group/48North Cannabis Corp.)

Breaking The Glass Ceiling

In a story by the Daily Hive, CEO Alison Gordon explains that her passion for cannabis began "[t]welve years ago, after watching a close family member become diagnosed with terminal cancer and using medical cannabis (under the old MMAR program) to treat themselves."  

After this experience, she began her quest to educate the public on the benefits of cannabis and to fight the stigma attached to its use. Before leading 48North, Gordon served as the chief marketing officer at WeedMD and worked as a consultant to cannabis companies in both U.S. and Canadian markets. She is also a co-founder of ReThink Breast Cancer, an organization that works with younger breast cancer patients and their loved ones.

In addition to her corporate and philanthropy work, Gordon is committed to getting more women involved in the industry.  She told Daily Hive “[w]e are at a very special time in our history where women can shape the conversation and perception of this plant.  We are caregivers, and teachers as well as the major buyer of health and wellness products.”

Girl Power

The cannabis industry has yielded opportunities for women executives. While 48North has made history by becoming a publicly traded Licensed Producer in the Canadian market with a woman as CEO, it is not unusual to see cannabis companies with women in leadership roles.  In fact, female executives in the cannabis industry in the United States make up around 27 percent of those in leadership positions, while their counterparts in other industries make up around 23 percent according to Marijuana Business Daily.

The area of ancillary services in the cannabis industry holds the majority of female leadership. According to Marijuana Business Daily, “women comprise of 42 percent of the executive positions at ancillary services." A great example is Quadron Cannatech Corporation (CSE:QCC), an ancillary and extraction solution company led by cannabis advocate Rosy Mondin.  There are other women who hold leadership roles in publicly traded companies that cultivate and produce cannabis.  One of those women is Ria Kitsch. Not only is Kitsch the VP Human Resources at Hiku Brands Company Ltd. (CSE:HIKU), she is also the co-founder of DOJA Cannabis Company Ltd. (CSE:DOJA) (OTC:DJACF), a cannabis cultivation company and lifestyle brand.

More Work To Be Done

While progress has been made, the statistics indicate that the glass ceiling is merely being raised instead of broken. There has been a staggering 25 percent decline, in three years, in the number of women in leadership roles in cannabis businesses. In 2015, 36 percent of executive-level roles were held by women, according to Marijuana Business Daily. Consequently, as cannabis legalization becomes more popular worldwide, there is fear that women may be inched out the of an industry that was once so welcoming.  

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