Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
As the cannabis industry burgeons in Berkeley, more female entrepreneurs are entering the plant-for-profit exchange. “There’s no other market that’s extensively open for women to start leading,” said Andrea Unsworth, founder of Stash Twist and chair of the Bay Area chapter of Women Grow.
Stash Twist is the only women-run delivery-only dispensary in Berkeley. Unsworth spoke with The Daily Californian about how cannabis can kick cramps and teach the tech industry a thing or two.
The Daily Californian: How does cannabis benefit women’s health?
Andrea Unsworth: We’ve only been stuck with Midol for like 40 years, so it’s refreshing to see products aimed at women and using cannabis. … One of my favorite products is a tincture that is specifically designed for balancing hormones — PMS, specifically — but also just to make your highs not so high and your lows not so low, so you’re not bouncing around so much emotionally.
DC: Do a lot of women call Stash Twist in need of remedies for PMS?
AU: I wouldn’t say a lot, but I would say we probably get more than a 17-year-old dude budtender at Harborside. I mean, I’m not gonna ask him.
DC: What are some of the obstacles for women patients looking to buy?
AU: On the patient side, definitely I think being a mom. That’s the first thing people ask: “Do you smoke around your kids? Do your kids accidently eat your edibles?” And it’s like, “No, does your kid accidently drink your bottle of liquor?” … There are a lot of stigmas about women and smoking and whether that’s appropriate. But until we are allowed to do research on smoking while pregnant, who am I to say “yes” or “no.”
DC: What are some of the barriers for women operators in the cannabis industry?
AU: We don’t have access to financing. That’s the bottom line: It’s cash only. So you can’t go to (Bank of America) and say, “I’m starting a cannabis business, can I get a $100,000 for a loan?”
DC: What are your thoughts on how the tech industry has infiltrated the cannabis industry?
AU: I feel like a lot of times, it’s like: “We are tech, and we have made a lot of money. Therefore, let us show you how to make a lot of money.” And it’s like: There are a lot of people leaving the cannabis industry because they’ve already made so much. We don’t need you coming in and telling us how to sell weed when you don’t even smoke or haven’t sold. It’s not like selling an iPhone. It’s not a widget, it’s not a gadget, it’s not a thing.
It’s part of the broader question (about) bringing a sense of equity to the cannabis industry. … (The) War on Drugs has unjustly mostly impacted people of color. And now that it’s kind of OK to sell, all the people that would be making the money would be white men. You see that a lot of that in the Bay Area. There is some tension there.
DC: What are the benefits of buying from a women-led dispensary or grower?
AU: It’s the compassion that is required to grow and care about the plant. I’m afraid of five to 10 years from now when it’s like Walmart-style cannabis, where it’s just like a huge factory and no one is checking each bud the way that they are now. … But our biggest grower, Dirt Ninja Farms, is run by this woman, who is amazing. … (Stash Twist) spends a lot of time on the phone talking through what people need. … We are helping patients, people with cancer, kids — and yeah, we are helping people who just want to get high because life is hard and stressful.