Jessica Levy, for HPC Port Hueneme | Published 2:00 a.m. PT Dec. 19, 2019
When driving to the Hardy Moll building in Port Hueneme, you might mistake it for a nondescript office complex — and in many ways it is. You’ll find a realty group, a dentist’s office and a contracting company. You’ll also find the home of HPC Port Hueneme, the only female-owned cannabis dispensary in the city.
Yes, it’s true. Even in California’s newly legalized cannabis industry, the gender gap is already pervasive. Beth Thuna, HPC Port Hueneme’s owner, estimates that only about one-third of the executives in the cannabis space are women. Customers are predominantly male too, Thuna noted.
“I think initially it was more of a man’s industry. I’m hoping that will change,” she said.
Even for Thuna, breaking into the cannabis industry wasn’t an obvious choice. It was as recently as 2016 that she first considered the idea of exploring cannabis after being presented with an opportunity to invest in a proposed shop. She was already an experienced entrepreneur, but her previous endeavors involved being part of an all-female movie production company and running a small graphic design business.
“I’m always trying new things and always open to new adventures,” she said. “We didn’t know if the city was even going to allow the shop to open. So we took a risk.”
That risk paid off. After a lengthy review process, HPC was the first dispensary to be approved by Port Hueneme, in an area that locals now often refer to as “the green mile.”
As she builds her business and makes history, Thuna has already seen some promising signs that change is coming and the industry is opening up. She’s also doing her part to shepherd it along.