Trail Blazers: Vermont Women Crashing Through the Cannabis Glass Ceiling
This article is part of a monthly series, Trail Blazers, highlighting entrepreneurs entering the legal cannabis space.
In 2021, about 22% of cannabis executives nationwide were women, according to MJBizDaily. Even fewer were women of color — in Ohio, for example, just 1.7% of dispensary businesses were women- and minority-owned that year, MJBizDaily found.
Legislators, advocates and entrepreneurs have said time and time again that Vermont has an opportunity to push its budding cannabis industry in a different, more inclusive direction. So as Women’s History Month comes to a close, we’re highlighting three women entrepreneurs to watch in the new legal market.
Lauren Andrews, AroMed Essentials and Capital Cannabis Company
For Lauren Andrews, working in cannabis is about “compassionate care,” a philosophy solidified during her time working with psychiatric patients at Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin.
“After seeing such success with my patients, I committed to learning much more about plant medicine, because I understood how powerfully effective plant strategies could be.”
Drawing on her experience as a registered nurse (RN) and a clinical aromatherapy specialist, Andrews founded AroMed Essentials, which specializes in essential oils and CBD products such as tinctures, lotions and gummies, in 2013. Andrews said her shop was one of the first in Vermont to begin selling CBD, and she developed her own line made with locally-grown hemp.
“After seeing such success with my patients, I committed to learning much more about plant medicine, because I understood how powerfully effective plant strategies could be,” Andrews said. She added, “I was really impressed by the available studies that show how effective cannabinoids could be with a huge variety of different illnesses.”
As the adult use market opens up, Andrews plans to launch a separate retail cannabis storefront in Montpelier under the name Capital Cannabis Company. She’s already found a space for her shop and is curating a list of high-quality growers and producers she plans to work with on the retail side.
“I have a lot of experience in retail and in cannabis medicine. So I’m fortunate in that I’m sort of a known entity,” Andrews said. “And there are people that want to collaborate with me in this way, so I feel very blessed.”
Tiffany Johnson, Euphoria Cannabis
Tiffany Johnson’s dream for Euphoria Cannabis Products is simple: A retail and cultivation outfit created by Black women, offering only the highest-quality cannabis flower and pre-rolls.
“I know that it’s bigger than me, is the biggest thing.”
“I just had a vision of a Black, female-owned retail space in Chittenden County,” Johnson said. “Because I felt, even if there were others, the chance of it being a solely 100% Black owned, Black female-owned retail space was very slim.”
Johnson said she’s most excited to see how the new legal market transforms Vermont’s culture, as it has in other states that were early to legalize, such as Colorado and California. Her hope is that the momentum will have ripple effects throughout other industries.
“That will bring new energy and an influx of community, new revenue, new festivals, ideas,” Johnson said. “I think it’ll open up minds and some energy in the state, and I’m really looking forward to that.”
One of Johnson’s biggest hurdles has been finding a property to lease after several potential locations fell through. But she now has a lead on a space that would be perfect for her company, and it also has plenty of real estate for Johnson to help other cannabis entrepreneurs get their start.
Lifting up others — and especially other women of color — is a top priority.
“Why wouldn’t I want to support that kind of industry and give people a chance to build something and do something for themselves within this industry?” Johnson said. “I know that it’s bigger than me, is the biggest thing.”
Meredith Mann, Magic Mann
Meredith Mann’s favorite saying is, “There is no CAN’T in CANnabis,” and that’s exactly how she approaches her business, Magic Mann.
“We wholeheartedly look forward to being able to support small cultivators in the industry as well.”
The Essex-based company was founded in 2019 and specializes in craft CBD products, cannabis catering and confections, which Mann has perfected over two decades of trial and error to concoct precise recipes that maximize relief.
“Making edibles is one of the most important things to my heart. I’m a medical patient and come from the medical cannabis management side,” Mann said. “And it’s, I know for myself and others, what people have struggled with, with cannabis to help it work for them.”
Education is one of Mann’s core values, and as Magic Mann prepares to convert to an adult-use retail store, she said the public engagement and response has been positive so far. She’s particularly grateful to those who have donated to the business’ Global Indigenous Fund, which helps connect indigenous communities to critical resources.
With the legal market launching, Mann is excited to pay the generosity forward within the cannabis community, especially by working with small cultivators.
“We wholeheartedly look forward to being able to support that part of the industry as well,” Mann said. “And I just feel like I want Vermont farmers to have faith in people like me who want to see us all succeed.”
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