While much of the Midwest is relatively new to the regulated cannabis game, it’s not to be ignored. And women are at the forefront of much of the region’s growth and development. At the first ever Green Market Report Midwest Women’s Cannabis Summit in Chicago on Nov. 2, we recognized some of these stellar leaders with the GMR Midwest Women in Cannabis Awards.
Here is a brief introduction to each of the award winners:
Advocacy (Activism/Politics/Social Impact): Leili Fatehi, Blunt Strategies
With more than 15 years of experience as a public policy and political strategist, Leili Fatehi has spent the past five years advocating for sensible cannabis regulations and just, progressive policies. She served as campaign manager for the successful MN is Ready campaign and is a tireless advocate for social equity in the cannabis industry.
Ancillary Provider: Jennifer Whiteley, CannaCarton LLC
After developing her own career as a packaging professional in the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and health & beauty markets, Jennifer Whiteley pivoted and was indispensable in the founding and startup of CannaCarton. A bold leader and mentor to many, she generously shares her knowledge and experience with stakeholders across the board in hopes of mitigating the packaging pain points that cannabis business operators deal with every day.
Legal: S.L. Owens, Law And The Fam LLC
Illinois cannabis agencies, entrepreneurs, advocates, multistate brands, and impacted communities have one legal expert in common: S.L. Owens. In an industry filled with distrust, S.L. fosters credibility and diplomacy. As chief cannabis officer of CannaTrep, S.L. builds legal programs advancing social equity. She is also co-founder of Legit Pathways Academy, where she mentors young adults impacted by the War on Drugs.
Public Relations: Mika Stambaugh, Acannability
Throughout her career, Mika Stambaugh has been recognized for her creativity, hustle, and leadership, including winning an Emmy in 2008 as a Field Producer at CBS 2 News Chicago. Mika started Acannability in 2021 to marry both newsroom experience and successful execution of communication strategies for front line public policy issues to the cannabis industry. She leads Acannability, the first advertising coop, and brings a trusted seal of approval to promote consumer confidence and ease fear with education.
Science/Research: Michele Glinn, Ph.D., Viridis Laboratories
Dr. Michele Glinn’s experience, know-how, and scientific acumen is unmatched, especially within the cannabis and toxicology scientific communities. As chief science officer and an owner of Viridis, Michigan’s largest cannabis testing laboratory system, she has been instrumental in advancing the science of cannabis. She achieved the only AOAC International certified potency method for marijuana in the world and had a peer reviewed publication of Viridis potency data within the Journal of Forensic Science.
Trailblazer: Jackie Cahan, 240L Holdings
Jackie Cahan is a financial expert with more than 30 years of experience, swiftly becoming a visionary leader in the cannabis sector. She endeavors to transform the industry’s supply chain and its financial intricacies, which are often laden with legal challenges. Jackie and her team coined the “doobie decimal system,” a groundbreaking approach to inventory management, and they also stand as one of the few certified METRC partners, demonstrating their dedication to regulatory compliance and industry leadership.
Her latest venture, ECO240, led collaboratively with Christine De La Rosa of The People’s Ecosystem, is an exemplar of equity and inclusivity. This brand book accentuates predominantly women-led cannabis brands, highlighting ECO240’s commitment to promoting legislative education, industry de-stigmatization, and product accessibility.
Woman-Founded Brand: Weiwei Fellman, Kota Botanics
As a AAPI woman and an immigrant, Weiwei Fellman built Kota Botanics from the ground up in the super conservative state of North Dakota. Within three years, she led the company from a retail boutique to the largest premium CBD retail business in the Midwest with 20 brands and more than 170 different type of hemp CBD and THC products. Meanwhile, her own premium CBD product line, Kota Botanics, is being distributed and sold in more than 38 states. Weiwei also serves as a board member of Asian Cannabis Roundtable, a nonprofit organization that aims to unify, amplify, and represent AAPI voices in the cannabis industry.
Congratulations to all of the 2023 Green Market Report Midwest Women in Cannabis Award winners!