Kittens of kush, dabbing dames, blunt broads: Whatever you choose to call us, women are the fastest growing demographic for cannabis consumption. According to Adweek, numbers of women cannabis consumers jumped 55 percent in the past two years. so keep your eyes on these prizes in our Honey Spotlight!

From community leaders and educators to social media mavens and brand builders, these top-notch communicators have been paving the way in East Coast cannabis for years. They opened up to us about their inspirations, their ambitions, and what nobody else talks about when it comes to being women entrepreneurs in the cannabis space. We're thrilled to give these leading ladies their flowers.

Kait Caridi at Work N Roll (C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @tissuekulture

Kait Caridi, The CannaDiva and BudsFeed

You might know her social activism or her strong social media game, but all you really need to know is that Kait Caridi is the cannabis community’s networking queen. A leader, educator, and advocate, Caridi shines brightest when she’s helping tell the stories of her New York canna-fam. She serves as Social Media Manager for the BudsFeed platform, where the top cannabis products from hundreds of brands are “seeded” daily for digital omnichannel discovery, and as Social Media Director / Event Coordinator for The CannaDiva, a community of women shaping the intersectionality of the cannabis industry through event curation and engagement. Caridi is also recognized for her encyclopedic knowledge of NYC canna-culture. Whether you want the buzz on the hottest events, an intro to the coolest women entrepreneurs, or recommendations for the best new consumption techniques, look no further. To us, she’s Kait the Great!

What’s your favorite thing about cannabis?

The uplifting and unifying community that surrounds me because of how connecting and healing this plant is.

What do you like to smoke on, and what’s your favorite strain?

I’m a Backwoods girl but I love smoking from my Chill bong! My favorite strain would be Mac 1 or some good Sour Diesel!

What do you wish men understood about women in cannabis?

We talk to one another and we stick by each other.

What’s the worst thing about being a woman in this space?

Feeling the need to prove yourself worthy and demand respect.

What’s the best thing about being a woman in this space?

Sometimes it’s nice to be underestimated. We’ve heard it time and time again, this plant is female! The future is female!

What do you hope to accomplish?

I just want to continue to make an impact. To show up for others and make positive change in this growing industry.

For more information, follow @kayejayecee on Instagram.

Annette Fernandez, La Casa Lola

Born to a Dominican father and Puerto Rican mother and raised in Washington Heights, NYC, Annette Fernandez is a community activist who founded the Women’s Walking Crew (WWC) during the global pandemic as a way to build bridges. She is a member of the Uptown Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and is the co-founder of several cannabis advocacy groups. Fernandez has had over twenty years of experience building teams and businesses in the retail and finance sectors, working with world-premier brands including Victoria's Secret and The Gap, before she took the leap in 2022 to turn cannabis from a passion into a full-time vocation.

“I’ve participated in the space for most of my life as a patient,” she says, “but in the past twelve months especially I’ve been able to co-found a variety of advocacy organizations, help conceptualize and build brands, and dedicate my efforts toward strengthening a women-centric consumption culture that New York truly needs.”

She firmly believes in creating female-focused affinity spaces that emphasizes women-led brands and provides a contrast to the male-dominated consumption arenas traditionally found around the city. Fernandez emphasizes the collective determination for equity in her cannabis work, exhorting investors to support women and BIPOC entrepreneurs, as well as educating community members on how to aid each other.

“Public policy always falls short somewhere when it comes to those most impacted by the War on Drugs,” she notes. “How can people think about becoming entrepreneurs if they don’t have basic needs of housing, health and safety met first? It will take a crescendo of inclusive voices to keep us on task and moving forward.”

For more information, follow @afernandezny and @la_casa_lola on Instagram.

(C) Pilar DeJesus / All That Jive NYC

Pilar DeJesus, All That Jive NYC and TakeRoot Justice

One of New York City’s leading housing and human rights activists, Pilar DeJesus is also known as La Problema for her fierce approach to ensuring racial justice. A native of East Harlem (El Barrio), DeJesus’s personal and professional mission to elevate underserved populations is served through her role as Advocacy Coordinator for TakeRoot Justice, a nonprofit that provides legal, research and policy support to NYC’s grassroots and community-based groups. In cannabis, DeJesus has been one of the most vocal proponents of social equity and policy reforms that go toward mitigating the harm done to the communities impacted by the War on Drugs. She is also founder of the educational forum All That Jive NYC, through which she coordinates community events and workshops in partnership with local businesses while advocating at the city and state levels, and a leader of The Bronx Cannabis Hub. Knowledgeable about cultivation as well as policy, she is a true manifestor.  

“People of color are dealing with trauma, hurt, pain, we are not even trying to think about,” she says. “[Plant medicine is] a good way to recognize the dark shadows and brokenness that we are living with… You have to have an agreement to create communication so you can work through [conflict], and that’s what organizing does.”

What is your favorite strain?

Jack Herer.

What is the best thing about being a woman in cannabis?

The best thing is being a badass Latina in a male-dominated industry, showing my power to those who doubt our power as women!

What do you hope to accomplish in the cannabis space?

I hope to accomplish helping my family heal, with the plants, with meaningful resources, and [my ideal place] living in peace in a treehouse.

For more information, follow @pilars_orenda and @all_that_jive_nyc on Instagram.

(C) Queenee The Kanna Kritic

Queenee The Kanna Kritic

Melodie Gonzalez, AKA Queenee the Kanna Kritic, is a content creator, podcast host, brand educator, and canna-mom who devotes herself to advocacy around cannabis for healing and uplifting other women. “I hope to bring a spotlight on the amazing women who work in the cannabis space,” she says. “I became a Kanna Kritic not to criticize, but to empower and educate this plant to my cannamom community, my fellow chronic pain warriors. I want to show that I can take a stigma and turn it into a success; for me and not for anyone else. I want to create something that hasn’t been done yet; that’s my journey.”

In 2015, after 25 years working as a registered medical assistant, Queenee developed crippling pains that left her disabled. Though she still lives with the chronic conditions of endometriosis and fibromyalgia, the educator shares her story with the world of how cannabis helped her rebuild her health. “I love how cannabis gave me my life back,” she asserts. “It was the only medicine that would take away my endometriosis and fibromyalgia pain. I love how it tastes and feels when it hits my body. I especially love dabs because that high concentration of THC instantly takes me to a pain-free place.”

A constant presence across all social media platforms and host of the Live With The Queenee interview series, Queenee also serves as an ambassador for Fat Nell, a woman-owned cannabis cultivation brand, and Fat Ass Glass, which brings rare glass pieces and unique subscription boxes to the community.

What got you into cannabis?

I took my love for cannabis and its healing powers and paired it with a press pass for the Women Grow [exhibit at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo] last June; it’s where I first saw Honeysuckle Magazine and realized that I was home. I could be free in a space where there was healing and acceptance. Shout out to Jenny Blaze for encouraging me to go and KymB for showing me all the reasons that I should stay!

What do you like to smoke?

The Queenee loves the Hash Rosin. I’m a dabber by nature and I love glass pieces. My motto is “If you stay lit, you ain’t gotta get lit.” Gelatos are my favorite because they are great for reducing inflammation and anxiety.

What’s your favorite thing about being a woman in the cannabis space?

Knowing my worth and knowing that I do not meet outside validation to succeed. Keeping in mind always that my sisters’ success is my success.

For more information, follow @queeneedakannakritic and @livewiththequeenee on Instagram.

Tami Garcia at The Astor Club @astorclubnyc (C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @tissuekulture

Tami Garcia, Tastee NYDC

Tami Garcia is the founder of licensed dispensary corporation Tastee NYDC, a family-owned business that operates out of Washington, D.C. and New York City, and co-founder of the NYCC Canna Competition and Awards show, which showcases the best in New York’s product innovators. A military veteran who balances a keen business acumen (she’s been an IT program manager on Wall Street for over a decade) with a lifelong passion for music and community advocacy, Garcia dedicates herself to bringing all in the cannabis space under one banner for eternal friendship.

To that end, her Brooklyn event space The Bamboo Cafe allows for networking and celebrations of all kinds. As she describes, events can consist of “a music showcase, private party, comedy or spoken word, 420 seminars, CBD classes,” and so much more. “Our cafe operates in a multi-capacity to include our retail gift shop, delivery and preparation, food and events,” she says.

It’s no surprise that the people-loving entrepreneur, who thrives by creating connections, also has an entirely other career as a musical artist who plays piano, steel drums and various percussion instruments. Under the name Tami G, she’s recorded several Soca songs that have been marketed throughout the Caribbean. No wonder she’s such a fierce fighter for making One Love a reality.

For more information, follow @tasteenydc on Instagram.

(C) Marina Henry-Arpe

Marina Henry-Arpe, Donohue Real Estate

Marina Henry-Arpe is a licensed realtor who describes herself as a “cannabis connector.” A South Florida native who loves sharing the hidden gems of her hometown, she is incredibly excited about the potential for the state’s legal cannabis industry. Over the past few years, Florida has experienced a massive boom in its medical cannabis space, creating one of the largest medicinal markets in the nation. For Henry-Arpe, an agent at Donohue Real Estate, this development has been a great entry point for education and merging her passions. She looks forward to serving more brands in the cannabis space by matching them with 420-friendly locations.

What is your favorite thing about cannabis?

The global cannabis community.

What got you into the space?

I was introduced to the culture from living with my hippie parents.

What do you hope to accomplish?

Expanding the local and global market with more cannabis-friendly properties.

What do you like to smoke, and what’s your favorite strain?

Currently it’s Permanent Marker; I get it from Doja Genetics, [bred by] Seed Junky. As for concentrates, I love Jam. The team, Alex and Megan, at Jungle Boys Florida has been putting out straight heat. My new fave from the last drop is Papaya Mix with Hippy Crashers - HIPpaya.

How do you like to consume?

At the house, a bong for flower and rig for dabs. On the go, I have elements and a Santa Cruz Shredder in numerous pouches and my center console.

What’s the best thing about being a woman in the space?

It’s simply marvelous to be recognized and noticed for something I love. It’s an industry I’ve always believed in from an early age.

What’s the worst thing about being a woman in the space?

The worst thing, please don’t be offended, is being labeled a woman. It's a given. The guys are never labeled the “gentlemen of the garden” or industry. Why does everyone always have to say, “Oh look, there are some women that work in the cannabis space”? I think as the numbers of females increase in the industry, maybe this term will become less used.

For more information, follow @empressmarina55 and @degreeinrealestate on Instagram.

Cat Ouellette (C) Eero John @eero.o

Cat Ouellette, COI Digital and Electraleaf

Cat Ouellette is a creative and marketing professional with over 20 years of experience in content creation, music and entertainment. She is the founder of COI Digital and Chief Marketing Officer of award-winning cultivation company Electraleaf. Most recently, Ouellette was granted a coveted New York Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license, which are given to justice-involved entrepreneurs and their families who have been impacted by the War on Drugs. This summer, she will launch the Bodega Cat brand in New York and California, an ode to NYC’s Chinatown, Asian-American and Asian diaspora culture which will feature Asian-inspired strains and cannabis culture.

What got you into cannabis?

I was always around weed since high school. I used to breakdance and go to raves and nightclubs, so I was bound to come across weed. But I came in professionally by accident in 2009 because I moved to Oklahoma from L.A. in hopes to be secluded and  finish my screenplays. I worked as a DJ on weekends and used to promote my  events on social media. I was then approached by all these cannabis companies. Oklahoma was oversaturated with licensed businesses, so they were figuring out how to stand out. I agreed to help them, and eventually, Electraleaf signed me on as their Chief Marketing Officer. I manage several brands on a daily basis.

What most excites you about becoming a New York CAURD licensee?

I never imagined in my lifetime I’d ever own a business, let alone a retail dispensary. I’m the same girl that was in foster care at 4, homeless at 17 in Times Square. What are the odds of making it? In the cannabis industry, only 20 percent of owners are women. 2.4 percent are Asian Americans. The fact that Brooklyn opened up for licensing was a miracle. My partners and I made it to one of three licenses in all of Brooklyn. It’s a big deal for us. I’m grateful for this opportunity and hope to open doors for the marginalized and the underprivileged. I’m ecstatic to be part of the narrative.

What do you most hope to accomplish, or see accomplished, in the future cannabis industry?

Truthfully, I’d like to normalize weed just like how society normalizes a glass of wine  or beer. I hope to see a Super Bowl cannabis ad. I hope to educate people of its long list of benefits and ways to consume it. I cannot wait to see tourism come into play in Vegas, New York, Thailand, and more to come. I hope to contribute innovative ways to  consume socially. While I am at it, I also want to help marginalized communities as I was once homeless, and throughout my adult life, faced a great  deal of sexism and abuse of power. Growing up, I was exposed to domestic violence, poverty, rape, and mental illness. One of my life missions is to find solutions to these  environments. When I was 14, I was a dance teacher at a community center and  introduced an after-school open dance session. Kids often used to let me know that I  changed their lives for the better as I unknowingly created a safe space for them. That’s when I knew I could make a difference.

For more information, follow @catouellette @bodegacatxo @electraleafny on Instagram.

A version of this article was originally published in Honeysuckle's 16th print edition. Click here to get your copy now!


Featured image: Cat Ouellette (C) Eero John @eero.o