Community impact takes center stage at Women’s Canna Awards

womens canna awards

It’s no secret that cannabis is a male-dominated space. While every operator in the space faces challenges (from regulatory hiccups to excessive tax burdens), women are often presented with even more roadblocks. According to the Women in Cannabis Study, females in the space believe they have far fewer opportunities than their male counterparts—and battle discrimination seemingly at every turn.

The Women’s Canna Awards (WCA) seeks to shift this narrative. Now in its second year, the California cannabis contest, which will be held on March 30th, celebrates the feminine energy that’s the backbone of the industry. But that’s not all: the Women’s Canna Awards also raises funds for Saving Sophie, a pediatric cancer research non-profit.

RELATED: These groups are helping women in cannabis overcome obstacles 

WCA was founded by Manndie Tingler, a long-time cannabis industry operator who recognized the need to amplify women’s brands and give them the respect they deserve. 

“I quickly learned there were a lot of women running businesses, doing the majority of the work, but not getting the recognition,” Tingler told GreenState. As the industry evolved, we started seeing a lot of these female operators falling to the wayside.”

Tingler and her colleagues began brainstorming ways to put women-led brands at the forefront, setting on a female-focused cannabis contest. In addition to the accolades, each winner will be granted a meeting with approximately 70 retail partners to get on dispensary shelves. For Tingler, it was creating an immediate impact that was the real inspiration for the event.

“The ultimate goal here is to really create a platform where there’s visibility and opportunity for growth right out of the gate,” Tingler explained.

womens canna awards
The first Women’s Canna Awards in Sacramento.

Contest elevates brands while giving back

Women’s Canna Awards trophies are given to various women-owned brands in categories such as flower, edibles, and topicals. Everything from packaging and labeling to overall effects are critiqued to highlight the entire consumer experience. Notable judges include Golnesa “GG” Gharachedaghi of Shahs of Sunset, Marie Blanco of VH1’s Cartel Crew, and San Diego Magazine editor Jackie Bryant.

WCA also has several “special recognition” accolades, honoring those who have committed themselves to sustainability, social justice, and building community. A panel of expert judges chooses winners in the product categories; the additional awards are given by event organizers or through people’s choice voting.

While recognizing women in cannabis certainly sets WCA apart from other industry competitions, the event’s dedication to social impact is especially unique. Proceeds from ticket sales, people’s choice voting donations, and a silent auction at the show will be given to Saving Sophie, this year’s benefactor.

saving sophie
Saving Sophie is the non-profit benefactor of Women’s Canna Awards 2024.

Tracy Ryan, founder of the Saving Sophie Foundation, was elated to partner with the event. Her daughter Sophie was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was eight and a half months old, and Ryan has spent the last decade searching for a cure. She said that the funds from WCA would go toward research and helping pediatric cancer patients receive immunotherapy treatments.

“I was beyond excited when Manndie told me she had chosen Saving Sophie to be this year’s recipient,” Ryan said.  “It’s all about women coming together to support women. It’s time for women to have a seat at the table, and I’m very excited for an event like this that shines such a big, bright, beautiful light on these women who are making changes in this space.”

Saving Sophie isn’t the only organization getting a chance to shine at the event. Tingler added that the non-profit umbrella containing WCA will be officially launched at the March 30th gala in Los Angeles. The Aurora Society will hold events and career fairs, as well as launch a mentor program designed to connect female executives with those seeking support.

“Aurora Society’s mission statement is to honor the exemplary work being done by women in disruptive industries,” Tingler explained.

RELATED: Nine cannabis non-profits promoting restorative justice

Glitzy WCA ceremony and celebration on deck

The first Women’s Canna Awards show was held in conjunction with the California State Fair in Sacramento, but this year, the event is getting the Hollywood treatment. Attendees will be treated to a red carpet experience, fine food and beverage, sponsor activations, and entertainment at the EK Art Gallery in LA. And yes, the party is consumption-friendly.

Kandice Hawes-Lopez, co-chair of the Women’s Canna Awards’ event committee, believes it will be a night honorees and the community will never forget.

“It’s going to be a really wonderful night full of fun,” she said. “It’s just a really great way for people to get together to celebrate women in cannabis. Distinguished women, women of honor, and these great women-owned brands that still exist in our industry that we can prop up.”

A limited number of tickets for the March 30th event are still available and can be purchased online. For Tingler, the chance to empower women and set a positive example is one of the most meaningful parts of the event.

“There are a lot of amazing women doing a lot of really awesome things,” she said. “I’m a mom of a little girl, who I just want to inspire to do her best every day, to do things that shake up the norm to step outside of that box, and push the envelope.”


Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist and Editor of She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, Cannabis and Tech Today, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter