Panel discussion with several prominent women in the cannabis industry: AC Braddock, CEO of Eden Labs; Autumn Karcey, CEO of Cultivo, Inc.; and Tracy Ryan, CEO and founder of CannaKids and founder of the 501c3 SavingSophie.
Ryan: It’s really exciting for me as a female CEO to see more and more women step up and take their careers into own hands. It was because of working for some not-so-great white, male bosses over the years that were always quite older than me, that I decided to start my own company in the first place. I really kind of had a thumb put down on me for far too long and my creativity and my ability to really soar had been stifled. I also endured a lot of sexual harassment over the years, unfortunately, when it was more acceptable and more common before the whole #MeToo movement began.
When it comes to racial equality, I’m really happy to see more social equity programs popping up, but there needs to be more. There are way too many people of color that have been imprisoned because of simple cannabis charges. It is time for these people to be released from jail for using a plant that is extraordinary for medicinal purposes and also for more social equity programs to be developed so that people of color can also have their shot at a seat at the table.
How has cannabis science impacted you, and how have you seen cannabis science evolve in the past few years?
Braddock: Cannabis provides humanity a platform to become a better race by improving our health care systems, supporting environmental awareness, and calling attention to social inequities that are blatantly and purposefully cruel. The science continues to improve on many levels, but it is also being held back by the politics of prohibition and our medical system's “business as usual” tactics to control medicinal plants and products that don’t fit into current business models of paying for clinical trials to patent outcomes.
Karcey: Cannabis science has impacted every way I look at the plant, from the types of building materials we use, to the cultivars we select, to the extraction methodologies implemented in our buildings.
Cannabis science is currently the biggest buzz word in medicine today. I’ve personally witnessed many medical miracles in humans and animals and I believe it is potentially the most effective medicine in the world for saving human and animal lives and improving overall quality of life for those suffering from medical issues.
Ryan: Cannabis science has completely changed my life; it’s changed how I look at medicine and it’s changed how I look at the world. With the discoveries that we’ve been able to make alongside Dr. Jewett, it has given me so much hope for the future. Not just my child but for children and adults all over the world. Now that we’re really starting to understand the mechanism of action with this plant and why it is that people are seeing these profound responses, we believe that through our science, we’re far enough ahead now that we’re going to be able to really start understanding what cannabinoids, as we’re able to bring more into the laboratory, are causing these profound responses in the human body. Science has been made very difficult to do, unfortunately, because of the federal government. We are really struggling working towards getting a Schedule 1 license for research. It’s going to be a very lengthy process and in the interim, the only thing that we’re able to bring into the lab is Win55 (synthetic cannabinoid) that is a receptor agonist which works against the receptors like cannabinoids that is covered under the Farm Bill. But we need to be able to study a lot more of these molecules. We need to be able to look at all of the molecules in the plant. Unfortunately, the government is just really still standing in our way. However, the science is still moving forward and we’ve found workarounds for that.
We are studying the blood of patients who consume cannabis and their immune function and now looking at the synthetics, that is also helping us to really wrap our head around what exactly is happening so that we can be more prepared for those other molecules once we bring them into the lab and knowing what to do with them. I have no doubt that within five years time we are going to see a profound shift in the way this plant is treated, understood, and looked at as a medicine and I’m just really blessed and honored to have some part in that.
You have forged new paths for others and set an example for what can be achieved with great drive and perseverance. What roadblocks remain for women in your field, and what needs to happen to move things forward? What excites you most, and what scares you most about the future?
Braddock: The roadblocks for women, people of color, and any start up are primarily financial. These sectors of the industry are significantly challenged without banking and private equity’s tendency to overwhelming fund men in business. Without financial support, organizations that fight social inequities, craft businesses, trade organizations, and so forth, are challenged in effecting legislative action as well as competing with larger well-funded companies that can afford to pay for shelving space, large marketing campaigns, multi-state locations, lobbyists, and who roll up small businesses to increase their perceived “value” in IPO’s. Our country does not support a small business model in general and if you are a woman or minority, you are challenged to the breaking point, but this industry does call out these inequities better than most and I am hopeful this industry will affect the cultural changes that will make the world a healthier and more politically stable place.
- J. Crossney, Cannabis Science and Technology 1(2), 52–54 (2018).
About the Interviewees
AC Braddock is the CEO of Eden Labs, an internationally known and respected 25-year-old technology company that specializes in research and development of products in biofuels, flavorings, environmental remediation, functional foods, natural products, supplements, nutraceuticals, distilling, and more. While Eden Labs serves many industries, in 2009 Braddock envisioned that the purity of supercritical CO2-derived products would be a necessity for the legalization of medical applications for cannabis and cemented Eden’s reputation as the pioneer of extraction for healthy cannabis concentrates.
Autumn Karcey is the CEO and founder of Cultivo, Inc., a firm specializing in cultivation and lab facilities design, located in southern California. Karcey takes a logical, consistent, and scientific approach when she designs cultivation sites. She combines the use of modern clean room technology, industrial agricultural equipment, custom fabricated equipment, high-end security systems, and sensor systems to create world-class facilities of enduring value.
Tracy Ryan is the CEO of CannaKids and the founder of SavingSophie.org. After her infant daughter’s brain tumor diagnosis in 2013, Ryan dedicated her life to helping patients with her line of CannaKids’ medical cannabis oils. Now in full swing with preclinical human trials involving CannaKids’ cancer patients, including an animal model trial on her own daughter, it’s her mission to bring non-toxic drugs to market for patients suffering from cancer and other life altering diseases.
About the Columnist
Joshua Crossney is the columnist and editor of “Cannabis Crossroads” and a contributing editor to Cannabis Science and Technology magazine. Crossney is also the president and CEO of CSC Events. Direct correspondence to: [email protected]
How to Cite This Article
J. Crossney, Cannabis Science and Technology 2(5), 32-37 (2019).
Editor's Note: The print version of this column that appeared in the September/October 2019 issue was edited for length.