Green Market Report Women's Leadership Award Profile: Shanita Penny

Education and government policy have long been two of Shanita Penny's biggest passions.

Activism/Politics Award: Shanita Penny, director, Coalition for Policy, Education, and Regulation, Activism Award

Education and government policy have long been two of Shanita Penny’s biggest passions – along with cannabis. So it’s only natural that her career took her in the direction of CPEAR, with which she’s worked now for more than two years at the federal level on marijuana issues.

Shanita Penny

She recently accepted a job with Forbes-Tate, one of the firms undergirding CPEAR, which will broaden her work to other industries as well.

“Initially we were working together to launch CPEAR, and after about nine months, the partners took note of the work I was doing and asked me to join the team,” Penny said. “So now I’m still working with CPEAR but also working in public affairs and helping to build out Forbes-Tate’s cannabis practice. So, really excited to not just be evolving in my cannabis policy work but connecting the dots for other industries.”

Penny estimated that about 60% of her workday will still be spent on cannabis issues, and she’s “really proud” of the work she’s done with CPEAR.

She also acknowledged some cold shoulders she received from colleagues when her association with CPEAR was first announced in 2021, because the group includes some tobacco and alcohol companies – including Marlboro cigarette maker Altria, Molson Coors Beverage Co., and others – which many cannabis purists don’t like.

That experience, she said, is the toughest thing she’s had to overcome in her marijuana career.

“The toughest thing was being shut out of so many rooms and conversations about cannabis after working with CPEAR,” Penny recalled. “I’ve been in tough rooms, no doubt about it. But to have folks you’ve worked side by side with, almost discredit what you bring to the table, that’s been tough.

“But the award was an indicator for me that the work is speaking for CPEAR, and that we all are going to have a part to play in getting federal cannabis policy right. We can’t exclude each other. We have to leverage the good and bad that comes with diverse stakeholders.”

Penny further said what the industry needs is “radical collaboration” instead of working “in silos.”

Her advice to other women in cannabis?

“Show up. Take up space. Bring your expertise, bring your lived experiences, bring your whole self to this movement and this industry, and it will serve us all well,” Penny said. “When I first entered this space, there were a lot more women, and a lot more women having success. So, yes, we’ve grown as an industry, and things have changed. But we’ve got to continue. The next generation of women leaders have to step in and step up.”

John Schroyer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the latest cannabis news delivered right to your inbox

The Morning Rise

Unpack the industry with the daily cannabis newsletter for business leaders.

 Sign up

About Us

The Green Market Report focuses on the financial news of the rapidly growing cannabis industry. Our target approach filters out the daily noise and does a deep dive into the financial, business and economic side of the cannabis industry. Our team is cultivating the industry’s critical news into one source and providing open source insights and data analysis


Recent Tweets

Back to Top

Get the latest cannabis news delivered right to your inbox

The Morning Rise

Unpack the industry with the daily cannabis newsletter for business leaders.