As branches burst forth with tiny sprouts of green — a sure sign of spring — a movement is budding below the growing canopy: The cannabis industry.
Women hope to lead the way in the emergent business, holding 36 percent of the leadership positions — more than any other industry in the nation, according to Marijuana Business Daily.
Filmmaker Windy Borman was inspired by the statistics and created a documentary, “Mary Janes: Women of Weed,” which local hemp-extract business owner Ashley Reynolds, of Elmore Mountain Therapeutics, brought to Vermont for its East Coast debut last month.
Borman wasn’t going to show her film on the East Coast at all until Reynolds contacted her — multiple times — through social media.
Persuading the filmmaker to move farther east took about seven months, but in the end, the documentary covering 40 women in the cannabis industry nationwide was shown at Merrill’s Roxy Cinemas in Burlington on Feb. 17.
“We were the very first East Coast showing,” Reynolds said, and the only showing in Vermont. “I know a lot of wonderful women in cannabis, and now we’re on (Borman’s) radar. To think a Hollywood movie producer called me, it’s amazing.”
Reynolds joined the cannabis industry last year, after the birth of her second child. Postpartum anxiety was becoming unmanageable, but Reynolds wanted to avoid pharmaceuticals.
Working as a dental hygienist in Stowe, one of Reynolds’ patients told her about cannabidiol — CBD oil, which is derived from hemp, a cousin to marijuana.
“Within three days of using CBD, I was back to my old self,” Reynolds said. “I finally decided that no one in the industry looks like me and sounds like me, with a medical background. I’m a mother, a professional, a wife … I felt I could change lives.”
That was in January 2017.
Instead of going on a honeymoon, Reynolds and her husband, Colin, spent $3,000 of their savings to start Elmore Mountain Therapeutics, and the couple is already looking to expand.
Elmore Mountain Therapeutics quickly partnered with local woman-owned businesses — Laughing Moon Chocolates and PK Coffee in Stowe and Nutty Steph’s Vermont Granola in Middlesex — to offer CBD-infused treats, and began making tinctures and a topical balm.
Marketing these products mostly toward women, Reynolds wants to persuade more women in Vermont to enter the cannabis industry.
She believes women are underappreciated and also the most stressed members of society, wearing many hats, from mother to businesswoman, she said.
“Women also make about 80 percent of the health-care choices for the household,” Reynolds said, a statistic that pushed her to develop a more feminine label.
“Because of how new the industry is, now is the time to shape it,” Reynolds said. “In Vermont, there are no rules, and I think we can use it to get rid of the gender bias.
Currently, the hemp used by Elmore Mountain is grown in Colorado, but three weeks ago, Reynolds quit her job in dental care to pursue the cannabis industry full-time. Last weekend she met with a cooperative to discuss obtaining all of the company’s hemp from Vermont farms, starting this year.