Mrs. Nice Guy

Women Grow Portland Chapter Expanding

Last night, I attended the Portland chapter of Women Grow’s third signature networking event. The chapter chairs are Sara Batterby, CEO of HiFi Farms and Leah Maurer, mother and activist. These two women are doing an amazing job getting this chapter off the ground, and bringing together women in the Portland cannabis community. This was the largest gathering yet for the group, and it was a packed house. The event was held at Refuge, in southeast Portland, with the theme being a celebration of the women involved in the passage and implementation of Measure 91. I showed up a little after 6:00, and grabbed some wine while I mingled. At each of these events there is time designated before and after the speakers for sponsors and attendees to network, so if you are a woman (or a man, there were plenty of men there as well) looking for a job in the cannabis industry, these events are definitely for you. It was super easy to tell who was looking for a job, and who might be offering one by the name tags everyone was wearing. If you were looking for a job or internship, they had little stickers that you could put on your tag so anyone you spoke with would know you were looking. Sponsors and organizers were wearing slightly fancier tags which were on lanyards, so job seekers could certainly spot them as well.

A little after 7:00 everyone was seated and a few women came up to speak briefly about their cannabis related businesses. The first was Barbara Murry of New Approach Bookkeeping, who offers bookkeeping and payroll services, and works with CPAs who can handle tax related work. She is currently located in Corvallis, but is in the midst of opening an office here in Portland, so if you’re looking for those services check out her site. Next, Mary Lou Burton reminded us about the Cannabis Creative Conference, an industry event happening at the Portland Expo Center July 29 and 30th. We’ve been super excited for this “meeting of the minds” conference at MNG, and we’ll keep you updated on details for that. Mary Babitz, the event sponsor, was last to present her business. Her company, Cascade Botanical, makes the vacuum ovens used by marijuana extract makers to remove whatever solvent they are using to run their product, leaving only the THC concentrate in the end. I had a chance to speak with Mary before her talk, and although she’s fairly new to the cannabis industry she is excited about getting more involved with organizations like Women Grow.

The three main speakers were all women who had a major impact on the grassroots organization and fundraising to usher in marijuana legalization in Oregon. Megan Walstatter was first, and she has been a member of the Portland Women Grow chapter since its beginning. She co-owns Pure Green dispensary in NE Portland with her husband, organized a PAC of over 100 growers in southern Oregon to help pass Measure 91, and was also recently appointed a member of the Retail Sub-Committee for Oregon’s recreational marijuana program. Megan shared a bit about her experience as one of the only women campaigning for legal marijuana, and her goals for the future. Now that Measure 91 is in effect, Megan is working with several groups to solve the issue of banking in the cannabis industry, as well as ensure that medical marijuana patients will not be taxed when they purchase their medicine from stores like Pure Green.

Executive director of the Measure 91 campaign Liz Kaufman spoke next, sharing some of her personal experience with running the campaign. A longtime campaign strategist, Kaufman was partly inspired to join the Measure 91 efforts by her husband’s use of cannabis in his ongoing battle with prostate cancer. Kaufman reiterated what Megan said about there being a serious lack of women involved in the cannabis legalization movement, and encouraged us all to be more open about our marijuana use so the world can see that the cannabis community is a diverse and rich one, full of inspirational stories. She reassured us that our votes and voices do matter, giving some tips on how we can stay involved with the implementation of the measure. Safe and legal access to cannabis is now the main priority, so if you live in Oregon and haven’t yet called Governor Kate Brown to urge her to move legal cannabis sales to October 1st, you can do so at 503-378-4582.

Oregon House Representative Ann Lininger capped off the speakers for the night. Lininger worked with the Mom’s for YES on Measure 91 group, and was also a passionate supporter of the campaign. She has since been named co-chair of a joint legislative committee which will oversee the implementation of Measure 91. Rep. Lininger’s message was hopeful, continuing to stress the importance of staying involved in cannabis legislation and giving specific examples of the ways in which regulating and taxing cannabis will be beneficial to our state. With the decline of the timber industry in Oregon, many people are looking to outdoor cannabis farms in the southern part of the state as an economic boost for the area. Large growing operations create jobs for local people through various avenues, retail stores boost local economies, and all of the ancillary businesses that support the growth and sale of cannabis are pumping millions of dollars into the economy in states that have legalized the sale of marijuana. Rep. Lininger firmly believes that, while there is still work to do, the cannabis industry in Oregon is promising to be good for jobs, families, the economy and the environment.

The main thing that all three speakers stressed was removing the stigma from the cannabis community by going mainstream. In the marijuana industry, as in many others, there are a growing number of women stepping up to take leadership roles, and Women Grow is providing the perfect avenue for us to do this. As a national organization, Women Grow has been covered by Forbes, Times and Fortune magazines, among others. A good way to do this is by getting involved with local organizations and political groups while being vocal about your pro-cannabis stance. There were so many inspirational and driven women at this event, they made it look easy to proudly “come out” of the cannabis closet! Now is the time for women to take their place at the forefront of one of the fastest growing industries in the country, if not the fastest. I will definitely be making the monthly Women Grow networking events a priority on my calendar, and I hope to see all you lovely canna-ladies at the next one on August 6th.

Additional photo credit to @michael44 (THANK YOU SO MUCH!)

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