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Cannabis is blazing a number of new trails. Across the industry, novel conventions are being set for what cannabis is, and who engages with it. As one of the strongest examples of the progressive nature of the plant and its culture, the cannabis industry is home to a strong number of female representatives – from executives and entrepreneurs, to influencers and activists.

Diverse in scope and skillset, the contemporary cannabis professional is hard to characterize. In part because the host of professions at work under the industry’s umbrella is diverse, and in part because the personalities that inhabit the space are unique, cannabis has proven a fitting place for a new class of professionals to flex some muscle.

In the U.S., Canada, and across the globe, there are strong female voices that lend perspective on every end of the cannabis conversation. Among those many names and faces, Natasha Raey stands out for both her feminism, and professionalism. A serial entrepreneur who balances her time between Toronto and Vancouver, Raey is the founder of Cadence Health Centre, a multidisciplinary wellness clinic.

Part of the team that pulled the inaugural Lift Expo together, Raey is also a member of an all-female cannabis company called Bast Box. The latest of her many ventures, Bast Box is focused exclusively on bringing to market female health products, including cannabis-infused lube, suppositories and topicals.

“We’re going to see an emergence of beautiful brands and products as we move toward legalization,” Raey says. “When you look at wellness, this plant has helped us with everything from anxiety to sexual health. The opportunity for creativity and innovation is leading to the emergence of an exciting industry that’s based around a plant that we know is natural and beautiful, and does so much for our bodies and our communities.”

Raey points to this particular era – a special juncture of time and space – as the catalyst to much of the progress women have made both in cannabis, and in emerging new industries. She sees the clout women have gained in cannabis as both parallel to the global empowerment movement, but with the ability to transcend other aspects of existence and humanity.

“There’s a lot of momentum around female empowerment with movements like Me Too,” she says. “I think that’s trickling down to industries like cannabis. This is the first time that women have the same chance to enter a legal market as men, so I think we’re all making sure we’re being heard.”

Abi Sampson agrees with that sentiment. A strong voice in the cannabis space, Sampson juggles her time between responsibilities at Tweed, where she is a customer care representative, and as interim director of NORML Canada, an advocacy group established to push for the reformation of cannabis laws in Canada. Sampson says women are, for good reason, synonymous with the emerging cannabis industry.

“Women make the majority of the purchasing decisions in the household, they have money to spend, and with more women coming out of the green closet, it’s promoting other women to come out of the green closet,” she says. “It’s important for women to see someone they can relate to help smash those stigmas, and open up conversations about normalizing what we’re doing.”

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