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The Women Of Weed



The women of the San Diego cannabis industry were out in force at the monthly meeting of Women Grow, held May 4 at 57 Degrees in Middletown. Women Grow was founded in Denver in 2014 to promote female entrepreneurship in the business of marijuana. The San Diego chapter was started two years ago, and meets monthly to discuss business trends and allow members to create and nurture relationships necessary to grow their businesses.

Although geared toward female cannabis professionals, Women Grow and its meetings are open to all. Approximately 50 people, about a quarter of whom were male, overflowed the patio event space. Two of the business leaders on the expert panel were men, as well.

The topic of the May meeting was “Emerging Trends in Edibles.” The discussion was moderated by local cannabis lawyer Kimberly Simms, the founding chair of Women Grow San Diego. The panel of professionals was made up of Keira Fae Sumimoto, a cannabis chef and cooking show host, Chris Coggan, founder and CEO of Therapy Tonics and Provisions, and Chris Husong, CEO and founder of ClubM, a company that offers subscriptions for luxury collections of cannabis products.

Many of the questions, from both moderator Simms and those in the crowd, pertained to proposed requirements for marijuana products released by state regulators last week. Packaging and labeling, potency and safety testing, distribution platforms, and facility standards are all subject to regulation, and were of keen interest to those at the meeting.

After the Q&A, the moderator and members of the panel took the opportunity to share advice and insight they have gained from their hard-won experience in the field. Attorney Simms observed that many operators of small cannabis edible businesses are caught up in the rush to obtain licenses from the state, when they become available sometime next year. But, she noted, the expense and effort to obtain these costly licenses is not necessary, or even feasible for many small companies. Instead, a partnership with a large manufacturer that already has a license can offer access to statewide manufacturing and distribution capability, while avoiding many of the regulatory hurdles required to obtain a license, Simms suggested.

Chris Coggan of Therapy Tonics

Coggan, who had a selection of his company’s infused coffee and tea products on display at the gathering, mentioned how important assembling a good team is to a new cannabis company’s success. That team should start, of course, with great employees. But just as important are professionals like lawyers and marketers, and a network of responsible dispensaries and distributors as customers.

A social mixer followed the conclusion of the meeting. Business cards were exchanged, ideas discussed, and new friendships formed, all while the crowd enjoyed the venue’s selection of food and drink.

The San Diego chapter of Women Grow meets the first Thursday of every month. More information is available at www.womengrow.com or by joining the Facebook group for the local chapter at www.facebook.com/groups/sdwomengrow.