LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — In the greenhouse outside her home near Frazier Park, Mina Carrillo is preparing for her next crop of cannabis.
Soon, she’ll have about 600 marijuana plants, which she’ll use to create gourmet edibles.
Baron’s Confections sells a variety of organic treats, from s’mores to cookies to marshmallows.
But if you think Carrillo, a mother and former software engineer, has long been a fan of marijuana, you’re wrong.
“I was totally opposed to cannabis,” Carrillo said. “I always thought of it as a drug.”
Her daughter Christina suffers from a rare brain disorder. For 15 years, Christina’s doctor recommended cannabis to help treat her debilitating seizures.
But Carrillo says she always resisted because of the stigma.
“I looked at this doctor like ‘Are you crazy? What kind of parent do you think I am?’ ”
But then she decided to add cannabis oil to Christina’s food to see what would happen.
“She goes, ‘I like this. It makes me feel normal. It makes me feel free,’ ” Carrillo said, beginning to tear up. “I felt guilty because I made her suffer for all those years.”
Carrillo says she wanted to make up for lost time.
So, she quit her job and enrolled in cooking school to create clean-green certified edibles infused with cannabis to help Christina and others like her with severe illnesses.
“This is not about us. This is not about making money,” Carrillo said. “This is about being humanitarian.”
And that’s how Cheryl Shuman feels.
She founded the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club after battling cancer and credits marijuana with saving her life.
“I’m just a mom. I’m a mom and a businessperson. I’m not a scientist, but i knew something was happening with my body,” Shuman said. “And I felt like it was a miracle.”
Miracle or not, Shuman now distributes high-quality cannabis products to multiple countries.
She estimates the value of her company at more than $1 billion. And she says she did it without having to answer to a man.
“I love the fact that I shattered the grass ceiling,” Shuman said, “and I’m taking a whole lotta women with me!”
Women make up roughly 36 percent of the leaders in the cannabis industry, including 63 percent of high-level positions, according to a recent survey by Marijuana Business Daily.
Compare that to the rest of the business world, where women have only managed to secure roughly five percent of the CEO jobs and only 25 percent of leadership roles.
One reason cannabis offers more opportunity for women is the relative youth of the industry. And since recreational pot will soon be legally sold in California, the door is wide open.
“There are so many opportunities and so many jobs that are going to be created that you need a woman’s force,” said Janice Hardoon, who owns Koreatown Collective.
And to help that force succeed, Shuman created a mentoring program for more than 200 young women, including Jackie Sponseller, who plans to create her own line of edible products.
“It’s great to see everybody blossom and bloom into what they’re supposed to be,” Sponseller said.
Women entrepreneurs are quickly becoming the queens of cannabis, catering to people like Christina Carrillo, who is grateful her mother’s business is in full bloom.
“She has helped my world so much,” she said of her mom.