The cannabis industry in New York has hit the ground running. The city is now home to all sorts of cannabis businesses ranging from exclusive clubs to your local bodega with a mini dispensary behind the counter. The craziest part? None of these businesses have licenses yet. Not a single one of these businesses are regulated by the state, let alone following any standardized system of business or sales. Let's also keep in mind most of these businesses are run by a bunch of overconfident men spewing both half-right information and straight up misinformation. On top of all of that, the regulations are still being finalized and things can change seemingly overnight. Trying to find your place in this "Wild West" phase of the industry is at the most stressful ever.

Enter Tanya Osbourne, founder of The CannaDiva - a women focused cannabis networking group. Tanya started The CannaDiva was started in 2016 and has been anything but silent from its conception, even during COVID-19. This past Friday we got our first taste of an in person CannaDiva networking event since the pandemic and (spoiler alert) was probably one of the finest cannabis networking events I have ever been to and I wasn't even allowed to attend half of it! This event was made by women for women, so I acted accordingly - like a fly on the wall, only recording my observations.

The event was held at Work & Roll - a women owned, consumption friendly co-working space in Manhattan. I've been to a couple of events at Work & Roll before ranging from live shows to brand showcases and beyond. It is very flexible space, perfect for both intimate events and larger multi dimensional events. The CannaDiva event was split into two room: the smaller room featured spotlighted women owned businesses which included brands like Kimber A.'s Chime & Chill.

"As a vendor, I found myself explaining my business

The vendor area felt very similar to the brands showcasing in the Women Grow Pavilion at the most recent CWCB Expo. All of the brands flowed well together and all business owners were well acquainted, connected, and friends with each other by the end of the Expo. This all checks out as Tanya is also a big organizer for Women Grow and she helped organize the Women Grow Pavilion. She really knows how to bring people together! Of course at Work & Roll it was an even more intimate setting so it made the area feel even more personal than at the CWCB Expo. By the end of the event all of the vendors were connected to both their fellow vendors and their fellow CannaDivas.

"Tanya's creation of the CannaDiva has taken the women in cannabis community to the next level" said Jacquie owner of The Highly Personal Chef. "It was magical to have everyone be safe enough to express their goals, strengths, and where they needed support. It was amazing to be able to engage in this kind of conversation in a professional setting while smoking without being judged or looked at differently."

After the roundtable came the open networking time. This is when I came to the event. As soon as I entered I was greeted by CannaDiva volunteers including Jazz from Buddy Bakes NYC. After I got my name tag I made my way over to the main room where I saw more CannaDivas helping out with the refreshments. It was amazing to see all the women from all parts of industry in the room. Any newer members of the CannaDiva group had a diverse group of industry members to speak with. Everyone who came wanting for information got more than their fill. I briefly spoke with some attendees and they all were extremely happy with the turnout and the information shared that day. Something I would also like to point is this event was powered by the CannaDiva community. From the venue used to the women in charge of refreshments every entity was there to support their cohorts.

This was the only event where I've seen attendee cry tears of joy and excitement. The energy of the roundtable that kicked off the event resonated and positively affected the whole night. This is what I mean by the one of the best networking events I've attended. It was an event that did not intend on creating connections, it was meant to solidify relationships and create foundations for successful businesswomen. The event inspired people to take action, not just for their business but for themselves. It was an absolute honor to be in there and I feel lucky to have just experienced the energy in the room.

This industry is male dominated, ever changing, and just plain confusing most of the time. It it of the utmost importance to have a reliable team of cohorts that both educate and support you. As Tanya's favorite musician said a million times the other night at Afropunk - "We can't do this alone, we have to do it together!"

When I asked Tanya what her mission for the CannaDiva is this is what she said:

"I want to create a safe space for women. [A space] where women are supporting through all parts of their journey"

I think you are doing exactly that Tanya, and this event definitely proved it. If you are a male reading this, don't be a jerk, be an ally. If you are a women reading this and thinking about getting into the industry, I hope you reach out to the CannaDivas and connect with them at their next event!