International Women’s Day has arrived and we’re celebrating the ladies at the top of the mountain when it comes to indoor cannabis.
There are a lot of women crushing the game across various sectors of the cannabis industry and they’ve provided their voice and perspective at every step of the process over the last few years. They helped craft what cannabis looks like at this moment. But the indoor cultivation scene can sometimes feel like a bit of a boy’s club, so here are a few of the women growing some of the best cannabis on the planet.
Erin Hamilton – Royal Key Organics
Erin Hamilton started Royal Key Organics alongside her husband Josh in 2017 after originally making her way to Humboldt from Texas where her closet grow was too sketchy after college twenty years prior. Since the day she entered the market, Hamilton has been at the top of the mountain when it comes to extracts and eventually flowers. The in-house work they do at Royal Key and the collaborations happening under the Surprize Surprize flag are some of the highest quality flowers and hash ever available to the legal market.
Right when you walk in the grow you can see the visual arts that have been intertwined with her life for decades. It looks more like an art gallery than the lobby of a commercial cultivation facility.
“I left. I went to the Bay Area, did some grad school stuff,” Hamilton fold L.A. Weekly. “And when I moved back here, I started growing again, and was cultivating with Josh. We started Royal Key after switching from flower growth into resin. And we started a brand because of my background in art. We both just love art. And we love just the project orientedness of it.”
Currently, Hamilton is in complete control of Royal Key’s cultivation facility for the past three years while husband Josh handles the business development side. “And I do all of our packaging design because I have an art background. And then I jump into the office and I run payroll and deal with insurance. And so yeah, I have my hands on a lot of it.”
We asked Hamilton what the view is like from the top?
“Pretty awesome. It’s daunting. It’s scary. Scary because you know you have to scale. We’re growing organically, so should be fine, but it’s daunting,” Hamilton said. “It’s like there’s pressure and there’s people that have a lot of high expectations so it sort of scares me but it’s exciting too.”
We asked Hamilton if never taking the big money that’s been thrown at them made it feel artsier?
“I love the struggle, right?” she replied. “We love to be starving artists. I’m used to that. I’ve done enough of that in my life. I can take a low payment while I’m waiting. I have a long-term vision. Neither one of us is in it for a quick cash payout. I’m okay being a broke-ass artist for a little bit longer.”
Anna Willey– California Artisanal Medicine
After being the first woman to open a dispensary in Colorado, Anna Willey brought her famed heat to California in 2018. In the years since Willey has arguably become Colorado’s finest export to California.
We asked Willey how much the breakdown between men and women had changed over the years. She pointed to the hiring process as part of the problem.
“They’re usually like, ‘Oh it’s a lady, marketing for her!’ or sales rep or packaging, or distribution – basically anything paper-oriented,” Willey told L.A. Weekly. Willey continued that when it comes to plant management, ladies have more than proven they can produce the highest quality product.
Willey spoke to her adventure opening her first dispensary as her pitch deck chased her former tech and finance comrades straight out of coffee shops fearing arrest. But eventually, she became a premier cultivator across two markets over the years.
“It’s still a boys club, but what I like is that, you know, I’m a boy’s girl. I love sports and I love hanging out with the guys and I’ve always been a tomboy,” Willey said. “So it kind of worked out. My dad worked for Ford for many years, so I like to tinker around, whether it’s cars or I’m taking apart a ballast. I do like that aspect, the engineering and the science of it for sure.”
Willey recommends that women who want to get their foot in the door do the research. There are more entry-level positions than ever, and much of the time you won’t have to learn things the hard way as people did in the past.
“Just be passionate, like you want to learn something and do something,” Willey said. “I don’t think that is saying, ‘Oh, I’m not going to go do it because I’m a girl’ or ‘I won’t get enough opportunities.’ I think it’s more so to say you just got to work a little harder and that’s okay too.”
Chloe Healy – Fig Farms
As regularly noted by a variety of California cannabis personalities, Fig Farms is in the conversation when you’re talking about the best pot in California. Chloe Healy, half of the husband-and-wife combo that founded Fig Farms in the medical era, continues to make sure they pump out the heat with their award-winning genetics or exciting new cuts of the moment.
We asked Healy what it’s like being a lady in a male-dominated sector of cannabis.
“It can be a little difficult at times, but you know Keith and I have always said the plants like the girls better, but all of our garden hands are men, and it can be a little bit of a juggle,” she replied with a laugh. She’s said there is definitely a growing population of women finding their way into the garden.
We asked Healy if it’s a bummer that women like her aren’t getting more credit for the product they are putting out. How come the results that women like her – and the others featured in this article – produce don’t just lead to a more diverse indoor cannabis cultivation space?
“You know, for me, I just want to grow the best weed, and I’m also kind of a shy introverted person. But I can’t really speak for all the other women out there,” she replied. “But yeah, it does seem like it’s still kind of male dominant and you don’t really see as many women in the spotlight.”
Healy emphasized she loves working with her team and is super grateful for them.
“There are egos for sure, especially from male growers in this industry. It’s hard to avoid, and everyone thinks they know how to grow the best weed,” Healy said. “The push-back can be hard to juggle. Women tend to be more chill to work with and there’s less head-butting.”