Justin Trudeau, Cannabis Legalization Is Your Chance to Prove You Want to Empower Women

Dear Justin,

Spring is (sort of) here and a season of change is on the horizon. A new federal fiscal year looms, a re-invigorated women’s movement charges forward, and cannabis is just four(-ish) short months from being legalized. Is all this change just a serendipitous coincidence? No. Serendipity is for suckers. This is an opportunity, Justin. Tell me, Mr. Prime Minister, have you ever considered how a flush budget and cannabis legalization could serve to elevate the profile and wellbeing of women in Canada? I sure have!

As of last year, only 12% of board seats in Canada’s 677 TSX-listed cannabis producers were held by women. And your government isn’t doing anything to fix that.

While not everyone cares, most people know that in Canada women typically make .74 lady-cents for every man-dollar earned. The higher up the work-world food-chain we go, the harder it is to find any women at all, let alone a female, C-Suite exec earning less than her male “colleagues.” And it’s starting to look like Canada’s cannabis industry won’t be any different.

Current licencing regulations include no provisions to prioritize female (or other minority) producers who, let’s face it, are less likely to receive the enormous financial backing required to support them while they attempt to satisfy the insanely expensive, government requirements that must meet just to be considered for a licence.

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At last count, the government has issued licenses to 90 companies to carry out the cultivation, sale, and production of cannabis across the country, with the majority residing in Ontario (53 licenses) and British Columbia (20 licenses—19 of which belong to companies headed by men). This industry is a vehicle for a massive change, and yet, here we are, turning over another page in the same old book.

By making an effort to destigmatize cannabis use among women, in the same way you are trying to destigmatize women in senior government positions, you can teach Canadians to name, celebrate, and defend female agency.

If women had (for the first time) real power and real influence within a massive industry, they could alter everything, from how deals get made to who gets hired and promoted to of course what is tolerated. This in turn shifts the culture within the corporate world itself,  creating a change that trickles all the way down to conferences and business interactions both social and professional. But most importantly, it helps create a Canada where women as captains of industry are a gloriously banal occurrence that we all accept as normal.

I can’t decide which will make people more uncomfortable: Women who run a company that makes weed, or women who use cannabis for personal enjoyment. On a good day, we women can’t do anything right—even when we are doing everything right—and legalization presents yet another judgement-fueled-minefield for us to navigate. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Help us create a Canada where women as captains of industry are a gloriously banal occurrence.

By making an effort to destigmatize cannabis use among women (and minorities and minority women), in the same way you are trying to destigmatize women in senior government positions, you can teach Canadians to name, celebrate, and defend female agency. Think about it. Dads who smoke weed in the garage are lovable, harmless dum-dums. Moms on the other hand, can’t even give their kids an extra cookie without facing the wrath of the unsolicited-public-opinion-tribunal. Help us remind people that women’s choices are not public domain nor are they up for debate.

Seems to me if you’re going to continue with strict policies, stern statements about safety, and just generally regulating the bejesus out of this thing, surely you can add some provisions that enable the bankshot-elevation of half of the country’s population.

Good luck in 2018/2019 fiscal year!