CEO Dawne Morris Talks Women in Cannabis Leadership

In an industry predominantly led by men, the rise of women in the cannabis sector has been a slow but steadily rising tide. As of 2023, women accounted for just 39% of marijuana executives nationally. 

Dawne Morris, a Philadelphia native and the CEO and co-founder of PROTEUS420, stands as a beacon of leadership and empowerment. Recognized as one of Marijuana Venture’s Women to Watch, Dawne offers a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing women entrepreneurs in the cannabis space. 

In an exclusive interview, Dawne shares her journey, challenges, and aspirations for women in shaping the future of both cannabis and technology. 

Cannabis & Tech Today: What challenges have you faced as a female leader in this male-dominated industry, and how have you overcome them?

Dawne Morris: In male-dominated industries, women may encounter patronizing behavior or have their contributions belittled. This is not a reflection of their worth but a result of societal norms. Despite these challenges, I remain resilient and focused on my success. I rely on my knowledge and expertise to prove my capabilities. By staying true to myself, exuding confidence, and not allowing others to undermine me, I navigate male-dominated environments with ease.

C&T Today: What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs looking to make their mark in the cannabis industry?

Morris: Know your facts, know your value, and make as many connections as possible. A support network of other women (and men) in the industry can be instrumental in finding new opportunities, solving problems, and just feeling like you’re not alone in your journey.

C&T Today: How do you see technology shaping the future of the industry?

Morris: From AI budtenders to advanced extraction methods, technology is at the heart of the industry’s advancement. Processes are becoming streamlined to allow for quicker turnarounds and more sales across the board. In our corner of the industry, ERP software continues to advance, producing real-time results that make compliance and reporting easier for everyone involved. I expect to see automation continue to skyrocket in our industry, leaving more room for human processes that cannot be mimicked.

C&T Today: How do you think increasing female leadership in the cannabis industry could impact its growth and success?

Morris: Women make up a big portion of cannabis consumers yet are underrepresented in executive positions in the industry. We have different life experiences, reasons for consumption, and unique perspectives that can inform big company decisions. By putting women in leadership positions, companies can ensure they effectively communicate with and meet consumer needs. This can only make the industry stronger and more successful.

C&T Today: Looking ahead, what do you envision for the future of PROTEUS420 and your role within the cannabis industry?

Morris: PROTEUS420 is on a path of growth and innovation. We have a strong team that keeps an eye on the market to anticipate and meet the needs of our customers. I am excited to continue our growth trajectory and challenge ourselves to stay on the cutting edge. As far as my role in the company goes, I want to serve as a role model for other women interested in cannabis, technology, or a combination of the two. Both industries are male-dominated and could benefit from more female leadership. I plan to continue speaking at events and empowering other women to strive for success, even if the odds are stacked against them.


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