By Megan Boyanton | Phoenix New Times
Sara Gullickson floated around the private dining room with a warm smile, shaking hands and chatting with dozens of venture capitalists, nightclub owners, real estate magnates, and former politicians who traveled from across the United States to hear her pitch her company. Only two women could be counted among the potential investors gathered on that April evening, and Gullickson, who at age 35 is the country’s first woman CEO of a U.S. publicly traded cannabis company, made sure to spark up conversations with each of them.
Her business, Item 9 Labs, sells medical cannabis products to more than 35 dispensaries in the Phoenix metropolitan area. As part of a burgeoning national industry, it stands as one of multiple companies contributing to the medical marijuana market in Arizona — where it may only be a matter of time until recreational cannabis also becomes legal, according to a 2019 statewide survey of residents by polling company OH Predictive Insights.
Gullickson wore a flowing black gown that swept the floor, and expertly worked the private room at Blanco Tacos + Tequila in Biltmore Fashion Park. Her blond curls danced around her face as she laughed with her guests. Slyly, between glances at white name tags stuck to blazers and button-downs, she would occasionally check her watch. The corporate world has no time to waste.