Women: A driving force behind thriving marijuana industry

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DENVER — The perception among outsiders is that women are mostly caregivers in the recreational marijuana business — but several women taking prominent roles in the industry are shattering that notion.

“Most of the women in this business are strong entrepreneurs,” said Jamie Lewis, who owns the Good Chemistry dispensary in Denver. “I see big moves for women in this industry moving forward.”

Lewis also manages two growing operations and Mountain Medicine — her own line of marijuana edibles.

“Business has been good,” she said, adding that she’s looking to expand her kitchen in the coming months.

Not far from Good Chemistry on Colfax, Meg Collins leads the Cannabis Business Alliance — working with lobbyists and state lawmakers to shape marijuana-related legislation.

“There are a lot of business owners, a lot of women in ancillary businesses in the industry,” Collins said. Adding, “there are no limits” for women looking to break into the industry.

A relative newcomer to the industry, Heather Despres, agrees.

“This is my dream come true,” said Despres, who as Lab Director of CannLabs, helped build one of the only state-certified marijuana testing laboratories in Colorado.

While Despres says she’s “honored to be part” of the budding business of recreational marijuana, she admits her success came with adversity.

“My last company that I worked for, I was the only woman. People tend to say ‘Oh, sweety, what do you do here?” she said. “It has been challenging to overcome some of the stereotypes of women in science.”

Along with Jamie Lewis and Meg Collins, Despres will be participating in the Colorado Cannabis Summit May 22nd — which features speakers and expert panels focused on improving marijuana products and developing technologies within the industry.