Jacqueline Renae McGrane wasn’t always the self-assured, tattooed trans woman proudly donning a polka dot blouse and miniskirt. For the first 25 years of her life, McGrane kept the blouse and miniskirt in the closet and left the makeup on the shelf. Passing as a cis man for her life’s first quarter, she didn’t transition until she was already a business owner and prominent member of the cannabis industry. In many other fields, this would be a problem. Not in the world of legal weed.
“I actually transitioned on the job almost five years ago, and I encountered the most amazing, accepting people in this industry,” she told OUT FRONT. “Being able to run my own business and transition is something I think a lot of trans people don’t get the opportunity to do, so I am very grateful for this industry and the people in it. I’ve always been supported; I’ve never been misgendered.”
It’s not surprising on the surface that this liberal industry is accepting of LGBTQ people. You don’t have to dig too deep into Colorado’s cannabis industry to find female participation, either.
But the image of women in weed that is often presented to the world is that of the cis, white, straight woman from an affluent background who likes wine and a joint with dinner. This is not to belittle the contributions made by these women; in fact, it is a testament to female-identifying people everywhere that many cannabis warriors are full-time moms and business owners, or find time outside of an unrelated profession to fight the good fight.
There are women in cannabis, however, who aren’t being recognized, women of color, women with disabilities, women from lower socioeconomic spheres, and queer women.
That being said, there has always been a connection between the LGBTQ community and the world of cannabis users and supporters. Both groups experienced unparalleled hatred based on nothing substantial, and both are finally getting their respect and due — although the current administration seems to be seeking to change that on both fronts.
When queer people were facing conversion therapy, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and AIDS-based prejudice, cannabis enthusiasts were being convicted with felonies for medicating, being painted as drug lords and criminals, and being denied their medicine.
It’s no surprise that there are queer women in the industry, fighting for what is rightfully theirs. They may be seen less often than their straight, cis counterparts, but they are making just as big of an impact.
Transitions and Extractions
McGrane, owner of Cannabinoid Consulting, is one of these trail-blazers. She is known for her quality extractions and feels welcome in the world of Colorado cannabis. Standing well over six feet in heels, a mini skirt, and a blouse and sporting numerous tattoos and a contagious smile, McGrane exudes positivity, happy to be herself and doing what she loves — and not having to choose between the two.
However, despite her good attitude and her positive experiences so far, McGrane still occasionally has to work with people who feel uncomfortable in her presence, something she grins and bares.
“The only time I’ve felt negativity is when dealing with older male investors,” she admitted. “For example, two days ago, I was standing in front of an older investor and owner, a man, and another man, and he spent the entire conversation staring at the other man even though it was about my consulting work. But in terms of the younger crew, it has been a lot more accepting.”
Despite this, McGrane continues to be herself and do her work. She specializes in custom design of extraction and purification systems for those who want to produce concentrates from cannabis flower. Since concentrates are rapidly becoming the most popular way to imbibe cannabis, due to their potency and the fact that vaping and dabbing concentrates is healthier than smoking, McGrane is doing good business both in Colorado and out of state.
McGrane attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, and then MIT, to become a biologist with a focus in organic chemistry. She got involved in the cannabis industry because she knew there was a market for someone with scientific training. She already ran cannabis-infused-product facilities, so going into consulting was a natural step for her. Since making that change, she has experienced a lot of success.
“I made more money in the last year and a half than I ever did in my whole life, and I’m doing exactly what I want to do,” she said.
McGrane lives in a generous house on some land outside of Boulder with her wife, a proud trans woman who often works in the cannabis industry as an electrician, and plans to use the profits from her expanding business to start a family.
They are also active members of the kink community and often supply thier pony play group with props and desired items, since most members of the group haven’t enjoyed as much success as they have.
McGrane makes it a point to share the wealth by donating to a Russian charity that helps sneak queer men out of Chechnya, and by giving concentrates for free or selling them at a low price to those who need them medically.
Unfortunately, although the cannabis industry is welcoming to McGrane, the rest of the world is not always.
“I feel so much acceptance from this industry but not so much acceptance from regular people I see on the street,” she admitted. “Just last night, me and my wife were sexually harassed by a drunk woman who grabbed us and called us anti-female, he-she bigots. I’ve had people throw stuff at me from their cars and take pictures of me and laugh, especially in the CU area — frat boys will laugh at you.
“There are tons of people out there who think trans people are delusional child molesters; I’ve been told that I promote misogyny and maternalism by females.”
She doesn’t allow these incidents to shatter her spirit.
The Thin Green Line
Kait May, another queer pioneer of dabbing and vaping, is killing it in the cannabis industry and reveling in every minute of it.
May works as an executive assistant for Green Line Partners, a business strategy firm that “strives to elevate the public perception of the cannabis industry through responsible and respectful business practices.” One of their primary clients right now is Dipstick Vape, makers of the Dipper, a device that allows on-the-go vaping and also acts as an accessory for dabbing.
May’s job takes her all over the country, and she finds Denver and the industry she is in to be affirming of her identity, although she’s had to fight for the rights she has.
“Personally, being a gay woman, I’m used to the government regulating whom I can and can’t love and my body in general,” she explained. “I feel like I’m fighting for the same rights for cannabis, something I want to fight for. Something worth fighting for — for sure. Because of stoner culture, you do run into some tone deaf ‘allies,’ but considering the generally liberal nature of the industry, it’s must more of an annoyance than anything else.”
While Denver is lucky in its embrace of queer and cannabis culture, May feels that more could be done to ensure the spread of cannabis education and queer acceptance.
She also thinks that the industry could be more inclusive of people other than white males who want to get ahead in the industry.
“I definitely think because of the fact that it’s a new industry you do have a leg up, but of course anyone that has the chance to afford good schooling and stuff like that, they are usually gonna have a larger leg up, and that’s straight white men,” she explained. “But because the industry is so new, and because we are more accepting than other industries, you can see that many women and people of color have been able to get their foot in the door. It’s nice to see women and people of color in powerful positions.”
Women have been making a huge impact on the cannabis industry since its inception, that much is clear. There are also women behind the scenes and the face of the cannabis industry, who are putting the wheels of industry in motion.
While McGrane and May enjoy success and acceptance as queer women in the cannabis industry, their success is built on shaky ground — ground that is still threatened by a resurgence of the drug war and anti-LGBTQ sentiment. Regardless, they carry on, thrive in work, and are unapologetically themselves.