Emily Paxhia shifted her focus entirely to the cannabis industry in 2013. Since that time, she has taken her experience of researching markets, companies and strategic opportunities and turned it entirely to the world of cannabis. Prior to that, she had 15+ years experience working with Fortune 500 companies to develop products, to resolve strategic errors, and to address new target audiences. She has been seen speaking at WomenGrow Events, MJ Business Journal Conference, ArcView, Opal Investment Conferences, KQED, World Agritech Summit, Hemp Industries Association conferences, YPO and WPO events, etc. She sits on the boards of portfolio companies and also the National Hemp Association.
1.) When building the cannabis industry from the ground up, why is gender parity (having at least 50% women) so important?
Organizations benefit from having a diverse range of experiences and opinions. Like it or not, our experiences are shaped by the gender we carry in the outside world. Women have a different experience from men in many regards, so having female representation is critical. Additionally, I believe that women tend to be very intuitive, or at least that is something that is nurtured in women as we move through life. Intuition in business is critical, as it is often intangible in the way that it guides our decisions and is incredibly helpful. As an industry with countless hurdles arising at all times, we need women and their perspectives, experience and intuition to help guide and grow businesses.
2.) What social justice and/or criminal justice reforms do you want the US to make around its drug policy, particularly around cannabis?
The way sentencing is carried out is an absolute atrocity. It empowers implicit racism and destroys communities. Further, the black market fuels the cartels, which then destroy the environment. Cannabis is at the very least a palliative resource and is likely so much more than that, once we have the research to show it. Cannabis can be shown to help with addiction to serious drugs and can alleviate pain, anxiety and suffering from chronic conditions. We need to treat this as wonderful natural resource and not as something to help fill the prisons.
3.) Why are environmentally sustainable business practices essential to the future of the cannabis industry?
The cannabis industry is under a microscope, which is often a painful reality, but can result in operating at a higher level. Because there are many naysayers or critics of regulation and legalization, as an industry, we must do better. We must continue to be innovators and we must build a good relationship with the earth around the cultivation of this plant. We do no benefit to waste electricity and water, to contaminate our water supply, to use harmful pesticides that can then endanger the end-consumer. As an industry, we must hold higher standards for ourselves and build for the big picture, not just the short term gains.
4.) How do you incorporate gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability into your work and the growth of your business/organization?
We are proud that many of our companies have women in leadership / influential positions. We have a diverse range of founders in the portfolio from women, to men, mixes of ethnicity and age, etc. We hope to see more of this diversity as the industry grows and more people get involved. We invest in companies that employ sustainable practices and in technology that makes sustainability more accessible to companies. We invest in industrial hemp, which will bring back a crop that is less of an environmental cost to our land than cotton and corn. We are working with companies that we feel bring integrity to the industry and increase transparency in fair employment practices. In other words, it has to fit into our belief that cannabis is a triple bottom line investment, as it improves society, the environment and the wealth of the communities that embrace this plant.