Janice Hardoon is no stranger to being the lone woman in a sea of men. In the mid-’80s, at 23, she was working on Wall Street as a financial consultant, one of just three women in an office of 86 people. “I survived that,” she said, “and I guess I’m surviving the cannabis world.”
Women-owned businesses make up roughly 13% of licensed retail and distribution operations in Los Angeles, according to a Leafly analysis.
Hardoon, now 56, is the owner of KoreaTown Collective, a medical and adult-use shop located on a trendy stretch of Melrose Avenue. She entered the business in 2008, in the early days of California’s dispensary boom. LA’s cannabis industry, she said, has long been a “good ol’ boys club.”
By most accounts, it’s still that way today. KoreaTown Collective is one of just 18 women-owned cannabis retailers or distributors in Los Angeles to have obtained licenses. As of March 19, women-owned businesses made up roughly 13% of licensed retail and distribution operations in the city, according to a Leafly analysis. Of 143 licenses granted so far, 16 others went to businesses co-owned by women, while 101 were awarded to businesses headed by men.
(Even getting an accurate headcount is a difficult feat. The Bureau of Cannabis Control, which oversees California’s legal cannabis system, doesn’t keep demographic information on licensees, said agency spokesperson Alex Traverso. Leafly’s review was based on listed owners in the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s public database. The identities of some owners could not be determined, and some businesses did not respond to Leafly’s follow-up inquiries. Those businesses were not factored into percentages used in this story.)
“It’s definitely a man’s world,” said Gloria Chavez, co-owner of DTPG Collective in Downtown Los Angeles. But at this pivotal moment in the industry, she’s not stepping