The Codcast: The women of pot

The “bro” culture of pot is a dominant image of marijuana. Cheech and Chong are the dudes who most represent the “stoner” generation while the legal industry is increasingly seeing corporations and investors dominated by men.

The reality is a little more diverse, though, and Massachusetts is aiming to hold the door open for previously disenfranchised people who want entrée into the booming business, such as minorities, ex-convicts with marijuana-related records, and women.

Perception often being stronger than reality, though, makes it difficult for women to get a foothold in the industry. Caroline Frankel, who has applied for a retail license for a store she plans to open in Uxbridge, and Angela Brown, owner of T Bear Inc. who is aiming to open a free-standing manufacturing facility in Wareham, joined the Codcast to talk about what it’s like being a women in business and, especially, the emerging marijuana industry.

“When you walk into these networking events, you’re often one of the only women in the room,” said Brown, a Dorchester resident who, like Frankel, became a proponent of marijuana by using it medically. “I have a male counterpart and when we walk into a room with my partner, he is often approached first. When we send [venture capital] emails, his are replied to, mine aren’t. Same email, different signature.”

The numbers show the difficulty for women. While women have a higher representation in executive position in the marijuana industry than as corporations in general in the country, their numbers are being reduced as more state legalize recreational pot. Several years ago, according to a survey by a cannabis industry association, women accounted for 36 percent of leadership positions in the business. In 2017, that number dropped to 26 percent and signs are it will continue to decline.

“We need women investors right from the ground up,” said Frankel, who added she is “self-funded” her eponymous Caroline’s Cannabis. “If we don’t, it’s going to become a male-dominated industry…Women just do not have the access to capital.”

Frankel says it’s important for women to support other women in the industry, noting she has signed an agreement to buy from Brown’s company. She also noted there are a handful of national organizations such as Women Grow that connects female entrepreneurs and supports women in the cannabis industry.

State regulators appear to be aware of the problems and have made a concerted effort to reach out to female entrepreneurs through roundtables and conferences. While women-led businesses aren’t directly included in the equity regulations that give deference to minorities and disadvantaged communities as well as those disproportionately impacted by marijuana criminalization, the Cannabis Control Commission has promised to regularly monitor race and gender diversity in the business and report the results.

A lot of what helps, certainly, is the fact that four of the five members of the commission are women, the commission’s chief of staff is a woman, and women hold at least half of the commission’s management and division posts.

“It puts a female face to cannabis in Massachusetts,” said Brown. “We can all look up from the audience and see someone who looks like us. When you see someone that looks like you, you get a feeling you belong here.”

JACK SULLIVAN


MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The chairman of the Westport Board of Selectmen has proposed adding police and firefighters to the departments because of a casino in nearby Tiverton, R.I., and several area towns with approved recreational marijuana stores set to open up. (Herald News)

Some Wayland residents are circulating a petition to adopt a bylaw restricting the shooting of guns in the town, a move the president of the Wayland Rod and Gun Club says is a ploy to shut the club down. (MetroWest Daily News)

A Boston developer says it has secured the funding to redevelop the tallest building in Brockton, which will allow the city to move forward with taking the property by eminent domain form the owner who had his own plans to redevelop the building. (The Enterprise)

Officials in Provincetown, Truro, and Wellfleet have approved tax exemptions for some year-round residents, a move that is angering part-time residents who argue they already shoulder most of the property tax burden. (Cape Cod Times)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Chad Ludington, a classmate of Brett Kavanaugh’s at Yale, issued a statement saying the man who wants to be the next Supreme Court justice lied about his drinking in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (New York Times) In an oped for the Times, former FBI director James Comey says the bureau can actually find out a lot regarding Kavanaugh and the allegations despite limitation placed on it.

The US and Canada reached a last-minute deal to salvage the North American Free Trade Agreement. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

ICYMI: Sen. Elizabeth Warren acknowledged the worst-kept secret in politics, announcing she will “take a hard look” at running for president in 2020. (Washington Post)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

General Electric ousted John Flannery as CEO just 14 months after he took over and announced a $23 billion writedown of its power control unit. H. Lawrence Culp Jr. , a GE board member who ran Danaher Corp. from 2000 to 2014, was brought in to replace Flannery. (Boston Globe)

The Boston Red Sox and Live Nation propose a 5,000-seat music venue near Fenway Park. (Boston Business Journal)

A Boston Herald editorial applauds the increase in the catch quota for skate, saying any regulatory increase that allows the embattled fishing industry to catch more fish is good news.

Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk, agree to pay $40 million to settle allegations that they misled investors with a tweet about taking the company private. (Associated Press)

The Trump administration has filed suit against California over its recently enacted net neutrality law. The Justice Department says the federal government, not states, should regulated the internet. (Wall Street Journal)

EDUCATION

Harvard gets a new front door with the Smith Campus Center, a reimagined Holyoke Center complete with green walls, or vertical gardens. (Boston Globe)

UMass Amherst football coach Mark Whipple was suspended for one game for using the word “rape” to describe officiating. (Associated Press)

A Boston Globe editorial says it’s time to take education reform in Massachusetts to the next level, with more money and more effort to improve outcomes in poor communities and Gateway Cities. The editorial extensively quotes Keri Rodrigues, the head of Massachusetts Parents United, who was profiled in CommonWealth in July.

Jim Stergios and Charles Chieppo of the Pioneer Institute say New Bedford pols are failing kids in their community by opposing the expansion of a charter school. (CommonWealth)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA and Keolis decide it doesn’t make sense to proceed with a plan to install fare gates at the busiest commuter rail stations. Instead, the transit agency will wait for a new fare system to be installed. (Boston Globe)

A Daily Item editorial applauds the decision to ban Ant and Lime bikes in Lynn but suggests starting over with a new go-slow approach in the spring.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Craig S. Altemose, the executive director of 350 Mass Action, laments how state politicians (House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Gov. Charlie Baker) aren’t taking climate change as seriously as they should and warns that the electorate is waking up to the problem and in some instances taking decisive action. (CommonWealth)

A state study has determined Dartmouth officials must lower nitrogen levels in the town’s rivers, which damages the area’s ecosystem and contributes to pollution in Buzzards Bay. (Standard-Times)

A group of Shrewsbury students are making a push to get the town to ban the use of styrofoam containers by food establishments. (Telegram & Gazette)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

Boston finally seems to be inching forward on the recreational marijuana front, with city officials saying they will soon issue some local permits to pot sellers. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The Boston Globe Spotlight Team reported on the quality of justice dispensed at hearings held by clerk magistrates, which the report dubs secret courts.

Through mid-September, 111 State Police troopers had retired, an unusually high number. The most departures in the last decade was 125 in 2008. (Boston Globe)

A prostitution sting in Springfield snared an alleged john who police say offered food stamps in exchange for sex. (Boston Herald)

In the wake of the murder of a Marshfield woman allegedly by her ex-spouse, the Patriot Ledger examined domestic violence statistics and found that nearly half of women homicide victims are killed by a current or former husband or boyfriend, a rate that has not gone down despite decades of trying to bring awareness to the issue.