Pennsylvania’s ‘Women in Cannabis’ talk about diversity, myths and the future

Ioannis Pashakis//November 14, 2019

Pennsylvania’s ‘Women in Cannabis’ talk about diversity, myths and the future

Ioannis Pashakis//November 14, 2019

Four prominent women in Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana industry spoke during an online panel on Wednesday. Clockwise from top left: Tammy Royer, Jackie Parker, Jamie Ware and Chris Visco. PHOTOS/SUBMITTED

Prominent women in Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana industry shared their experiences Wednesday at  “Women in Cannabis,” a discussion hosted by Terrapin Pennsylvania, a grower/processor in Clinton County owned by Boulder, Colorado-based Terrapin Care Station.

The panelists talked about what led them to the industry, how they focused on diversity within their organizations and where they see the industry going.

“We are in our communities every day, hiring women and people of color and working to end the stigma of medical cannabis,” said Chris Visco, President of Terra Vida Holistic Centers, three dispensaries in Bucks, Montgomery and Chester counties.

Visco was joined on the panel by Jamie Ware, compliance officer for the Pennsylvania arm of Holistic Industries, a Maryland-based grower, processor and dispensary; Tammy Royer, president of Organic Remedies, a dispensary in Chambersburg, Enola and York; and Jackie Parker, community outreach director for Eastern Pennsylvania for Green Thumb Industries, which operates Rise dispensaries in Carlisle, Mechanicsburg and York.

“Our goal was to highlight the real-life success stories of women who are leading and making a difference in Pennsylvania’s emerging medical cannabis industry,” said Chris Woods, president and CEO of Terrapin Pennsylvania.

The panelists talked of the importance of diversifying the medical marijuana workforce as the industry continues to grow quickly throughout the state.

After two years of operation in Pennsylvania, the state’s medical marijuana industry has earned more than $500,000 between dispensary sales to patients and grower/processor sales to dispensaries, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The panel members spoke on the need to educate Pennsylvanians on the benefits of medical marijuana, targeting misinformation on the uses of the product and its benefits as a medicine.

“If we continue working together as an industry, we can be as impactful on economic growth as the natural gas industry or gaming industry,” Parker said. “We are creating jobs, building communities by repurposing underutilized or vacant buildings, providing revenue for the state and looking out for the health of Pennsylvanians.”

During the panel, Ware said that medical cannabis’ major speedbump continues to be its status as a federally illegal drug. She said that the nation still needs to address its framework for regulating the medicine.

“We are faced with myriad regulations that don’t have a meaningful impact on ensuring high-quality, safe products,” Ware said.