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These women grow the dankest cannabis in Canada


The world of female weed growers is budding with talent and expertise. These ambitious women are not only leaders in their work-life but also beacons for aspiring cultivators across Canada.

Long before the legalization, women have been building a space of their own in cannabis. Still, female growers are the minority in the field of cannabis cultivation. A job that carries a significant stigma, despite years of legalization.

This is why for International Women’s Day, Leafly asked female-identifying cultivators in weed to share their voices and highlight their achievements. Here are five of the many women in cannabis that are paving the way, and growing some of the dankest weed in Canadian cannabis.

Natasha Smith, lead grower at Alberta Bud

Natasha Smith (Courtesy of Alberta Bud)

Under Natasha Smith’s contagious smile and energy hides one of Canada’s most respected weed cultivators. Smith has always been around cannabis for as long as she can remember.

“My mom has consumed marijuana daily since I can remember,” muses Natasha. “And my dad? Well, he was the green thumb growing a few plants ‘here and there’ out in our backyard shed,” she says reminiscing about her childhood in the late 80s and early 90s.

When she started suffering from anxiety and insomnia in her early twenties, she turned to weed instead of pharmaceuticals in order to manage her health. She quickly saw an improvement in her life so she officially got her medical marijuana authorization and a licence to grow her own. 

“Male cannabis cultivators don’t get asked about what it’s like to be a male grower.”

Natasha Smith, lead grower at Alberta Bud, on gender in cannabis.

“It was my personal passion that led me to my professional career in the cannabis industry.  While learning and perfecting my cultivation skills in my ACMPR garden, I was also helping run a local cannabis-specific grow store.”

Today, Natasha is an expert on weed, showcasing her grow on Instagram and is the lead grower at Alberta Bud, a micro cultivator known for its unique offer of small-batch cannabis.

Like her male counterparts, Natasha’s goals for her work are all focused on quality and consistency. She doesn’t like the reference to her gender.

“Male cannabis cultivators don’t get asked about what it’s like to be a male grower,” she says while mentioning that she finds the industry incredibly balanced compared to others.

She states that more women are entering the space than ever before, bringing expertise and transferable skills from other fields. She can see cannabis being led and dominated by women.

Currently, her main goal is to grow good-quality legal weed. What keeps her going? The excitement of chasing this objective, knowing that her next batch will be better than the one before it.

Her advice to women who want to enter the field?

“Believe in yourself! If you want to do it, believe that you can. Being confident in what you know and consistent in carrying yourself well, people are more likely to notice you.

Find a mentor! The cannabis industry is growing at a fast pace and there are plenty of opportunities for women.”

Kieley Beaudry, CEO at Parkland Flower

Kieley Beaudry (Courtesy of Parkland Flower)

When Kieley Beaudry started in the cannabis industry in 2012, she would have never thought that haters would be an issue in her work.

“Getting attacked online on social media, attacking my credibility and knowledge is something I deal with almost daily. Often it feels like the attacks are targeted simply because I am a woman. I rarely see men in a similar role attacked online in the same way.”

And yet, with her experience, knowledge and success, Kieley is at the head of one of the most promising micro-cultures in Canada, Parkland Flowers, a career that started with her making cannabis products for a family member that had brain cancer.

Kieley rarely sees her male counterparts being harrassed on social media the way she is dragged as a woman in weed.

Her love of cooking and creating is what fuels her through her job. For Kieley, working with cannabis is not so different from cooking or baking.

“There’s a lot of science with a healthy dash of creativity and art. Seeing a finished product after putting hours and hours into formulating a product is very satisfying, especially when I am making a product for a patient that needs my help.”

Today, Kieley knows that women are underserved in the cannabis industry.

While she sees more women in management and ownership roles in small operations, she wishes that they would be more present in managerial roles, especially in higher management. 

Her advice to women who want to enter the field?

Research, network, and take notes.

“Research, research, and more research. Work in the industry, either at a licensed producer (LP) or even in a retail store.

Attend cannabis conferences and events and bring a notebook. I have 5 notebooks of research from the over 30 conferences I have attended since 2017.

Networking is huge in this space. It is not all about what you know, it’s often about who you know.  Build a community that you can lean on when you need questions answered.”

Genevieve Newton, director of cultivation at Stewart Farms

Genevieve Newton (Courtesy of Stewart Farms)

Genevieve Newton was always driven and passionate, she wants to be the best at whatever she does—and working with weed is no exception. Her passion and drive make what she calls “the perfect storm for success” in the cannabis industry.

Genevieve also had a dad with a green thumb. First, he showed her how to garden as a child. Then, as an adult, he taught her how to grow her own cannabis.

“Once I started, I fell madly in love with the living plants and I soon became obsessed with learning everything I could about weed and how to grow the prettiest, healthiest flowers.

I love flowers and have always felt connected to them, weed is just another flower and one of the most complex on the planet.”

Being a female head grower provides me with the constant rush of adrenaline to keep me chasing my dreams.

Genevieve Newton, director of cultivation at Steward Farms.

As the director of cultivation at Stewart Farms, she feels grateful for aligning her passion with her work.

“I’ve usually got bored or felt unchallenged. Growing weed keeps me making mistakes, keeps me succeeding, keeps me humble, challenges me daily, and keeps me on my toes.

Being a female head grower provides me with the constant rush of adrenaline to keep me chasing my dreams.”

While she is thriving in this space, Genevieve feels like there’s a lack of strong, fierce women in leadership roles.

In her work through the legal cannabis industry, she has seen women mostly in entry-level positions rather than in senior leadership roles. She wants to see more of her fellow peers represented in cultivation and decision-making positions.

“I’d love to see more women given the same chances as men to show up and perform. As women, we have a natural connection to this female plant. If we decide to align and connect to this flower, we can and we should.”

Her advice to women who want to enter the field?

Just do it (even if it isn’t easy).

For Genevieve, the work is worth it. The competition is fierce, and staying on top of mental health is extremely important in such a fast-paced space.

“5 years ago, I was a 39-year-old wife, mother, and social worker, living in Edmonton. I just wished I had the guts to change my life. I was growing my medicine illegally in my craft room, living with the stigma.

If I can do it, any woman can. It’s literally blood, sweat, and tears, and how badly you want it.”

Rebecca Thomson and Olivia Penner, co-presidents at Prairie Grass Farms

Rebecca Thomson and Olivia Penner (Courtesy of Prairie Grass)

For Rebecca and Olivia, coming back to the family farm was something they knew they would do. As the fourth generation behind Prairie Grass Farms, these sisters wanted to put their own unique footprint on their family heritage.

And they did.

As a registered nurse (Olivia) and a pharmacist (Rebecca), they had both witnessed the positive difference cannabis brought to people’s lives. They decided to incorporate their knowledge of medicine and farming for a holistic approach to cannabis cultivation.

“Our commitment to building Prairie Grass and championing wellness in the cannabis industry is centred on our bond as sisters, our family, and our farm.” Rebecca shares.

I would advise that you start building a network of people that you can trust and look for an area where you can let your talents shine.

advises Rebecca Thomson for women looking to work in weed.

The sisters are passionate about cannabis’ versatility. Rebecca believes that the quality of the medicine they get in the end is attributed to the care and attention they put into growing their product. 

“The work that we put into a growth cycle is reflected in the end product and for us, this is no different than the attention that we have given to cultivation on our farm for four generations.”

Even with their knowledge and their strong farming background, they still find it hard to find capital for their venture, an obstacle no less different than the one other women face in other industries.

But they are still very positive about women in the industry. With more weed-based products being normalized, more women are starting to enter the field.

Her advice to women who want to enter the field?

Build a network, learn from others, and mostly, learn from your experiences!

“I would encourage women to speak up and reach out to female-owned and operated LPs and dispensaries to let them know the types of products that they would like to see and the educational support that they need,” Rebecca adds.

“Some of our greatest lessons have been learned through the many bumps that we have experienced along the way. I would suggest that before you begin looking into starting your own grow that you would reach out to female leaders in the industry and learn from their experiences and seek their advice.

The cannabis industry is changing and growing so quickly, so I would advise that you start building a network of people that you can trust and look for an area where you can let your talents shine!”

Yara El-Soueidi's Bio Image

Yara El-Soueidi

Yara is a writer and a culture journalist based in Tiohtiá:ke/Montréal. Her work has appeared in CultMTL,, MTVnews, Montreal Review of Books, Restless Media, Eater MTL, and elsewhere. When not writing, she listens to music, spends time with her cat, reads books, and complains about a whole lot on her Twitter account.

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