Ashby Henderson used to grow vegetables for restaurants but says she has come out of the “weed closet” like scores of other D.C. women.
The co-founder of Women Grow D.C. said that in her first year as the group’s leader she has met more women who use, grow and advocate for marijuana than she ever knew existed.
“Before I started, I was the only person I knew who did marijuana,” said Ms. Henderson, slouching in her chair at Serendipity Jazz Coffeehouse in Northeast. “It’s becoming this not-scary thing anymore. It’s just a plant.”
With jurisdictions around the country legalizing pot for recreational and medicinal use, budding groups like Women Grow are rising to the forefront of what had been an illegal black market dominated by men.
The D.C. chapter of the national for-profit Women Grow started last May with 12 members. Now, several sponsors fund the organization and about 100 people attend its monthly networking and speaker meetings.
Though the meetings attract men and women in equal numbers, the programs are geared toward female users and growers, Ms. Henderson said.
“If you cater to a woman, she’s more likely to come to the event feeling safe in an uncomfortable kind of arena,” the former farmer said. “They don’t even have to talk about [cannabis]; they can just listen and learn.”
Ms. Henderson, who gave her age as “47 or 48,” once ran a produce farm in Riverdale, Maryland, that supplied vegetables for Rose’s Luxury restaurant, but she recently dedicated herself to the business of pot.
She is aiming to apply the business development techniques of the tech industry to her work with weed by opening an “accelerator” that would fund and mentor entrepreneurs with their cannabis innovations.
“Hopefully, it will help a lot of other people,” Ms. Henderson said. “I’d…