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The future of the growing cannabis industry is female

Four years ago they met in a ballroom. Four-hundred eager-eyed, growers, marketers, distributors, investors, and just plain curious cannabis industry folks assembled together for the inaugural Marijuana Business Conference & Expo.

More: The rise of the cannabis industry is shattering the glass ceiling for women

Four years later, and the conference was named the fastest growing trade show of 2015 in the U.S. byTrade Show Executive Magazine. Marijuana Business Daily’s 5th Annual Marijuana Business Conference & Expo takes place in Las Vegas, November 15-18, 2016 – just days after an unprecedented nine states vote on new marijuana laws. This year’s attendance is expected to be over 7,500 cannapreneurs.

Since 2012, Marijuana Business Daily’s annual conference has been the biggest networking opportunity of the year, and co-founder and CEO, Cassandra Farrington, has been forging its way since the beginning. I sat down with Cassandra to pose a few questions leading up to this year’s event, to hear more about her journey and the opportunities for women in the midst of all the legalization of cannabis excitement.

Farrington’s story is one that may sound familiar to people who arrive at the cannabis industry in a roundabout way. She came from the world of banking and finance with Citigroup. “I eventually hit a ceiling, and there was no getting past,” Farrington relates. In 2009, she co-founded B2B media company, Anne Holland Ventures Inc., a publishing practical information services for executives. Their in-house team of journalists researches, reports, and creates content frequently cited by leading publications.

Since then, she’s never looked back.

The level cannabis playing field

Part of the beauty in transitioning from a traditional, established industry to the cannabis industry, is the level playing field that comes along with it. This is because galvanized organizational structures don’t exist in the cannabis industry (yet). Furthermore, women have been involved since the early days. “Being a female in the cannabis industry is unique in that there’s no question I’m equal,” Farrington declares.

It’s possible a business shift along these lines may seep over into traditional industry. Farrington predicts this can be “The new normal of what American business is going to look like as legacy practices die as a result of turnover from retirement and age.” Could it be?

Certainly, there’s a fabulous marketing advantage that comes with this female influence in the cannabis industry. “A majority of these [cannabis] buying decisions are female, not your twenty-something white male,” Farrington reveals. “We need to reflect that in this business.”

Cannabis tech and finance

Women work in all parts of the cannabis industry, with direct and indirect influence on outcomes. But they are increasingly involved in production and distribution, which may prove to indicate their future influence.

Despite that, Farrington helped make the point there’s still a need for women to grow greater presence in the areas of technology and finance. “Making sure there’s an expectation that women have a place in technology and finance is part of the conversation,” she insists.

“Doing that is half of the job.” And it’s a job she’s loving.

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