"The cofounders of Women Grow really wanted to create a platform for women to connect, educate, and to empower them," says Jocelyn Anderson, chair of the Bend chapter. "Because in the cannabis industry the male presence is so strong, they wanted to give women the opportunity to network and be entrepreneurs on their own, and really dive into the industry."
Featured speaker Lizette Coppinger talked about starting out in the cannabis industry, her experience as a woman in business, the obstacles faced by dispensaries, and advice for women starting out. In a male dominated industry, she spoke about the importance of women educating themselves on all aspects of the subject, saying "as soon as it becomes technical, they immediately address the men working, and all of a sudden it's like I'm not there anymore. Be prepared for those awkward situations...have an educated response. Don't be afraid to speak up."
With limited funds and zero advertising, Coppinger started Cannabend with her husband Lyle and their friend Ron. While expansion has been slow, Cannabend has been able to give back to the community by organizing a Bethlehem Inn food drive and participating in MS Walks, showing that cannabis businesses can have a positive impact on their neighborhoods.
The most resounding message from all of the speakers was that the most rewarding part of the business is the impact their products have on patients. When speaking of her triumphs, Coppinger says, "One aspect that I was very impressed with was that we actually serve patients with real medical needs...most of our patients are older and they need serious medical attention. The way that their lives have changed...we see them progress, and every time they walk in you see them feel better; they just look better. That is the best thing about working in a dispensary, and is one of our biggest successes I'd say."