Last night, the Weedmaps' headquarters in Irvine hosted the monthly Women Grow meeting—a group created by entrepreneurial women in the cannabis industry to empower other women to succeed in the business as well. The monthly gatherings are structured in a way that allows for networking and education focusing on a specific aspect of the industry. Growers from different parts of California with various cultivation styles gathered to speak on a four-person panel to a room of nearly 50 people—and it wasn’t only women in attendance.
The panel was mediated by Keiko Beatie, one of the chairwomen of Women Grow, who’s been in the industry close to a decade. With experience in cultivation and operating a delivery services, Beatie asked questions that only a seasoned grower would ask. "Do you use kelp in your soil?" she asked the panel of growers, who nodded and shook their heads yes and no.
The benefit of asking questions like this isn't to say one method of cultivation is better than another. Rather, it's to show those in attendance the different styles of growing cannabis and what methods often work.
“I’ve been growing off and on for the last 30 years,” panelist Sallie Reed, a Southern Californian artisan cultivator told the crowd. “But it’s been mostly on.”
Reed grew up in Glendale, California with a gardener as a father—having a “greenthumb” is apparently in the genes. Currently in Norco, Ca, she grows several high CBD strains, a widely admired sativa and several solid indicas. Her witty personality made her presentation on the panel stand out. She was highly relatable and her advice was simple: “Grow what makes you feel good,” she said, “grow what makes you happy.” Otherwise, according to her logic, you’re not going to grow the strain very well.
Another panelist was Lauren Unger, Director of Community for Humboldt Brothers, a Northern Californian cultivation group. As a master Reiki healer who’s dedicated her life to healing people who suffer from addiction, she’s implemented her healing strategies on cannabis plants. After losing someone close to her to addiction over the summer, she spent four weeks retreating from New York life in the midst of Humboldt forest. After realizing that’s exactly where she was meant to be —in nature and helping others heal—she’s begun practicing Reiki on the blossoming cannabis plants growing on Humboldt Brother’s acreage, and planting activated crystals in the soil.
“It’s important to give the plants as much energy and love as possible,” Unger says, as she crosses her hands over her heart. “They soak up whatever energy we give them. That’s why it’s important to give them as much love and light as possible.”
A panelist by the name of Claudio, whose specialty is indoor growing also presented his theory on cultivation. One of the most fascinating aspects he spoke on was the issue of pesticides in the world of growing. But instead of just talking about how pesticides are used in almost every grow operation today, he explained why they’re being used—and it’s because growing organically makes it hard to keep up with non-organic (considered “regular” cultivating practices these days) when you’re growing hundreds of plants.
Finally, the last panelist was Kelly Flores is the Co-founder and CEO of Margo Advisers, with close to 20 years of experience in corporate marketing and strategic consulting for start-ups and corporations in emerging industries—including cannabis. Growing up in Los Angeles, Flores currently provides compliance consulting to farmers in the Humboldt area. Specifically she helps them navigate the rollercoaster of local and state regulations; as most are currently working to transition from independent grows and non-profit entities, to established commercial businesses.
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One of the most ear catching points she made in the panel discussion was that no one in the industry—grower, dispensary owner, etc. – should never assume anything. The example she used was soil. People can grow organically (technically, “biodynamically” because the “organic” certification isn’t available for cannabis yet.), but after getting their plants tested, they come back pesticide positive. The reason for this, Flores explains, is because pesticides don’t disintegrate. In fact they can last up to five generations in soil because of their rigid chemical composition. Thus, it’s imperative to nurture and develop your soil—and keep contaminants as far away from it as possible.
Last night’s meeting happens to be one of the first meetings held after the organization’s CEO, Leah Heise, stepped down from her position. According to a press release sent out this week, Heise is resigning because she got a license to run a dispensary in Maryland. Although she'll still remain involved in the organization she will no longer be the point woman.
"We fully support Leah on her decision to step down as CEO," Jane West, founder of Women Grow, said in a press release. "We see this opportunity as yet another example of women making powerful moves within this industry.”