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Verano Women in the Weeds

By Danyal Swan February 29, 2024

March marks Women's History Month, and March 8th International Women's Day. In honor of these celebrations, we gained insights from the women at our cultivation facilities nationwide. Read more from Verano:


You’ve seen the front-facing women of Verano. Our female Cannabis Advisors and Receptionists, Managers and Store Leads, female Customer Care team members and leaders, at all 138 (and counting) dispensary locations nationwide—but what about the Cultivation Facilities? What about the Women in the Weeds?

The industry is rife with stories of men not taking women seriously as cultivators. With this in mind, it's no surprise that in the beginnings of the industry, women were primarily found in the trim rooms, where their eagle eyes and gentle touch perfected the bud before being packaged for sale. But this is the 21st century, and Verano is 21st-century forward-thinking. Forget the glass ceiling—women at Verano are shattering the grass ceiling.

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we chatted with some of the women behind the cannabis products you know and love, the women behind your highs. These are the Women in the Weeds:

  • Amanda Cohrs, Extraction Manager
  • Andrea Morrison, Asst. Manager, Packaging
  • Anne Santoro, Cultivation Manager
  • Anya Majeski, Sr. Manager, Extraction
  • Danisha Matta-Field, Extraction Specialist
  • Fabi Zolezzi, Packaging Manager
  • Jacklyn Gerrity, Edibles Associate
  • Jillian Schafer, Cultivation Lead
  • Jules Ng, Extraction Manager
  • Lori Boroska, Cure Assistant Manager
  • Madi Lopez, Propagation Manager
  • Maria Macedo Macedonio, Veg Manager
  • Nyasia Pagano, Edibles Lead
  • Sarah Trucks, Production Manager

What it means to be a woman in cannabis

Lopez: It is an honor to be a woman in leadership in the cannabis space. Historically cannabis has been known to be a male-dominated industry especially when it comes to leadership positions however, I have never perceived it that way in my tenure at the grow. I work with so many proficient and accomplished women who forged the path for me to flourish and allow me to contribute to the facility in ways I could have never imagined. To be able to nurture our plants and teach my team to do the same feels incredibly empowering.

Santoro: So many aspects of this work, pre-industry, made it inaccessible to women; it was impractical, illogical, out of reach, or just plain unsafe, for many people...even more so for women, and of course, even more so for women who also happened to be mothers. It was also notoriously gate-kept by a variety of people—some extremely dangerous, some just extremely annoying—which thankfully, the industry has had a hand in changing as well.

It is precisely BECAUSE of all of these things—all the things I have had to overcome, outlast, withstand, brush off, get around, and squeak by (and my ability to do so, I suppose!)—that I value being a woman in the cannabis space so much! And nothing would make me more proud than finding out my journey, even with all its bumps, helped pave the way for other women in cannabis today. Whether as cultivators, or industry professionals, or even just as female consumers, who are now able to safely and legally purchase cannabis in a dispensary, without fear of judgment, arrest, or worse. Knowing we have had a part in creating this reality, as women in the cannabis space, means everything to me…To those of us who did it then, and who remain here now, continuing to do it, every day, making it better, moving it forwad, you get a permanent head nod from me.

Ng: It means that the success of cannabis rests on the shoulders of women, an increasingly growing segment of the cannabis workforce.

Schafer: [B]eing a woman in a male-dominated industry is significant. Representation is very important. When I started 2+ years ago- there were even less women at our facility than they are now. More women in this space, means more perspectives- which leads to a better-quality workplace for all of us.

Morrison: It feels great to be a woman in this industry. I’ve had many opportunities here and have had the chance to show what I’m capable of and I’m really grateful for that. I’m also surrounded by other great examples of female leadership around me. Not only other managers at our facility but within the company as well. It’s nice to have strong women to look up to and to aspire to.

Majeski: As a woman in the cannabis industry, it gives me the opportunity to challenge traditional gender roles and stereotypes, being part of a movement that is reshaping the industry, advocating for change, and creating opportunities for empowerment and leadership.

Boroska: Being a woman in the cannabis industry is something I'm proud to say I'm a part of. I feel quite honored working with the other women that work in this facility. They are amazing at what they do and whatever task is given to them, they give 100% always. They see the importance of the job given to them and just do it. That is one of the many things that make women so great and valuable in this industry. I can't say enough about my fellow ladies, it would be a huge loss without them.

Zolezzi: As a woman and a Latina, it represents an opportunity to contribute my skills and perspectives to a movement that strives for equality and empowerment. It means advocating for inclusivity and ensuring that diverse voices are heard and valued in shaping the future of the industry.

What they’d share with women hoping to join the marijuana industry

Ng: Know your worth! All the cannabis flowers are ladies, and it takes great women to bring out the best in them!

Matta-Field: Don't be afraid—it's worth it.

Morrison: To all women who are looking to enter the cannabis space, we look forward to having you! I would tell them that Sky is the limit. If you truly want to climb the ladder here it is possible with hard work and being open to all opportunities. You will be represented and supported!

Zolezzi: Connect with other women in the field, build a supportive network, and share knowledge and experiences. Don't be afraid to challenge norms and contribute your perspectives to help shape the future of the cannabis industry. Remember that diversity is crucial for innovation and your presence can add value to the evolving landscape of cannabis.

What they wish people knew about the cannabis industry

Schafer: Cannabis Cultivation in a facility as large as this one (Branchburg) is HARD work. You gotta leave your ego at the door because its 100% a team operation. We're factory farming indoors so what you may think it'll be like, is not at all the reality. Get ready to sweat.

Morrison: I wish people knew about each process and the love and care our employees put into our products. Everyone works really hard to deliver a high volume of cannabis products and it takes the whole team to achieve this. As for the Cannabis industry as a whole, there’s a lot of science behind cannabis flower and it’s really interesting to learn all the ins and outs of the plants/oils in general. It’s all really fascinating.

Majeski: You have to be persistent and resilient. The cannabis industry can be challenging and competitive. Stay committed to your goals and be prepared to face obstacles along the way, Learn from failures, seek feedback, and continuously improve your skills and knowledge. 

Pagano: A lot of people are shocked to hear about all the rules and regulations surrounding cannabis production. Some people tend to not know or lose focus on the fact that we are producing medication, and there are a lot of standards and guidelines that we need to follow to get safe and quality products to patients. Also, sometimes older people are shocked to hear that it’s a “legit” job with benefits, and that always makes me giggle.

Ng: It's A LOT of hard work. Every department has a talented team of individuals (most departments are mostly women!) that perform delicate, repetitive work every day. It's not just a large production facility, but at its core, a large indoor farm.

Cohrs: The collaborative nature and the interconnected departments that work together to create a whole. Each department plays a role in ensuring success, by recognizing and appreciating the range of talents we can cultivate a culture of teamwork.

Santoro: I wish more people knew that even though we produce a psychoactive plant, we are not continuously under its influence. I also wish more people understood the true biodiversity of the cannabis plant, and its unique ability, in the plant world, to adapt-- not only the physical conditions of its environment, but also to the emotional and psychological needs of its human cohabitants. It's an endlessly fascinating plant!

What they wish everyone knew about growing the cannabis plant

Lopez: Cultivating cannabis requires a high level of dedication and attentiveness. While it does grow at a remarkable speed, the process isn't as simple as cutting a clone and watching it flourish; it's a nuanced journey that demands constant monitoring, a keen eye, and a grower who is deeply invested in the plants that they tend to.

Santoro: I wish everyone knew that while cannabis is not a hard plant to grow, there is an extremely wide range to the potential outcome of each strain. It is the job of the cultivator to be a steward of each plant's natural tendencies and traits. There is no one size fits all approach to growing cannabis, for this reason—the approaches to growing vary nearly as widely as traits among strains. A technique that works well for one strain, in one environment, won't work well in a different set up, or with a different strain. I wish everyone knew there is no such thing as a RIGHT or WRONG way to grow!

The most rewarding part of working in cannabis...

Cultivation

Lopez: The aspects I find most rewarding about working in cannabis cultivation is the connections I've formed with my team and the plants we care for. Watching them grow and thrive and knowing that we are providing medicine for those in need makes my work so valuable to me.

Santoro: The most rewarding part of working in cannabis cultivation for me, has been watching a set of skills I decided to invest my time and energy into learning, many years ago, develop into a what they have become today: muscle memory, reflexivity, a set of responses, engrained so thoroughly and completely, executing them has become automatic. As a manager, it is rewarding to be able to that happen in the cultivators I now train, as they begin to develop and master these skills as well. My favorite thing to observe, is when someone I have trained finally gets their "eyes". Thats the moment they can look across a room of plants, and where once all they saw was an anonymous sea of leaves, suddenly they can see a million different things: lower branches that need to be removed, trellis that's ever so slightly bowed in the middle, colas that are about to hit the lights within the next few days.... and they know what to do to start fixing these things. Thats a rewarding moment!

Edibles

Pagano: I love that my department offers alternatives to smoking/vaping. Giving patients a different and tasty avenue to benefit from medical cannabis is extremely rewarding. I hope to see us expand on products to include people with dietary restrictions, such as sugar-free or gluten-[free] friendly baked goods.

Extraction

Majeski: Innovation and experimentation. The cannabis extraction field allows for continuous learning and innovation. Discovering new extraction techniques, improving efficiency, and developing new products is exciting and rewarding.

Ng: The most rewarding part is getting to give tours to visitors. The intricacies of the lab can blend all together after so many years, but going through it step by step to a newcomer reinvigorates my passion for the job.

Cohrs: Seeing the entire process from start to finish. Starting with flower and transforming it into oils and concentrates, it's never boring! I have an amazing team by my side who's eager to always improve.

Production

Trucks: The most rewarding part for me is formulation, I love making every product with love and intention for patients. I enjoy teaching my team the same. The extra care makes a world of difference.

Morrison: There are so many things, but that most rewarding thing would have to be, seeing that [I] am capable of achieving anything I put my mind to. Production can be extremely fast-paced, sometimes hectic, however, these moments have made my skill sets stronger and I am grateful for that.

Join our Women in the Weeds

Are you ready to join the Women in the Weeds? Or interested in exploring dispensary or corporate opportunities? Blaze your new path forward with Verano—we believe the future of cannabis is limitless, and we say yes to powerful women leading the way forward. Apply to one of our open positions and know we look forward to having you.

Content Manager for MÜV Florida and Contributor for Zen Leaf Dispensaries. A cannabis connoisseur with a passion for explaining the miraculous possibility of the plant, Swan began her journey with cannabis as a recreational user and quickly realized its positive impact on her depression and severe anxiety. She joined the cannabis industry as Receptionist and MedTender and witnessed first-hand the immense potential of the plant for a wide variety of ailments, deepening her passion for alternative medicine. Swan is dedicated to self-education on the plant and sharing its potential with all. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Iowa.

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