Women to Watch: Melissa Khan

Women to Watch: Melissa Khan


Melissa Khan’s story is one of determination and resilience; combining vision and execution, an adventurous spirit, and a dedication to success and uplifting others.

Balancing motherhood with academic pursuits was difficult, but rewarding she explained, “First and foremost, I am a mother, and I worked hard to earn my college degrees a little later in life than most. I have a BSBA focused in International Business/Marketing and a Master of Business Administration – MBA focused in Marketing/Marketing Management from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis. Putting myself through college while balancing raising a child on my own was one of the most challenging things I have accomplished to date.”

Her journey took a serendipitous turn shortly after finishing school. “I met the love of my life, who is now my husband, at a local grocery store -in the dairy aisle in case you were wondering,” Khan joked. “My family has not only been the biggest supporters of my career in cannabis, but they are also my cheerleaders in life.”

That network of love and support gives her the strength and balance to be as outgoing and dynamic outside of a boardroom as she is inside. “In my downtime, you will find me at Bumbershoot Aerial Arts flying through the air on a silk rope or coaching an aerial beginner class to share my passion. You will also find me cycling with my husband and participating in organized rides. This will be my 6th year of fundraising and riding for a cause in the Greater St. Louis Bike MS. I am proud to be a part of Team Mercy and ride for all of those impacted by MS, especially those that are close to me who suffer from this disease.”

Professionally, Melissa Khan brings a wealth of experience to her role as Associate Executive Director of the Missouri Cannabis Trade Association (MoCannTrade).

“My background as a dynamic marketing professional with years of experience in building brands for startup companies in the tech and cannabis industries has given me an advantage in my role with MoCannTrade,” she told Greenway.

“Although marketing is my greatest strength, I bring a new perspective and fresh energy to the Association,” Khan continued. “I have a deep-rooted passion for entrepreneurship and elevating women in the cannabis industry.”

Melissa Khan | MoCannTrade

What can you tell our readers about MoCannTrade?

MoCannTrade is Missouri’s Cannabis Trade Association and at our core we bring people together and foster community in our growing industry. Although our primary focus is policy impact, MoCann is also focused on supporting an environment of collaboration. Our diverse member organizations bring a wealth of knowledge and learnings that have led to the success of Missouri’s incredible industry.

There is a team of people accomplishing a lot of work in the background to ensure sensible policy, reasonable rules and regulations, and overcoming industry challenges. There is a common phrase, “it takes a village” and in our case that village is our members who come together to share insight and work towards important solutions to continue to move the Missouri cannabis industry forward.

We have accomplished so much already and there will be more work to do with the standing up of the new Microbusiness licenses.

We are hosting a special event for Microbusinesses June 4th in Kansas City, Missouri and will have an educational panel on the topic. I believe Microbusiness licenses will provide more opportunities for women in the cannabis industry.

Our website says it best:


We’re helping create a legal, safe, thriving cannabis industry in Missouri by closely supporting and protecting our members through education, advocacy and policy impact.

MoCannTrade is an association of business owners and professionals proactively working together to build a successful, safe and compliant medical and adult use cannabis industry.

Our membership-based association is governed by a 15-member Board of Directors and 45-member Advisory Board with backgrounds in medical and adult use marijuana, licensed facility operations, as well as healthcare, law, science, agriculture, law enforcement, security, commercial real estate, finance, government and public affairs. Our collective association voice is comprised of four external industry facing committees, 3 internal association management committees, the MoCannTrade PAC, our volunteer staff and full time Executive Director and Associate Executive Director on behalf of nearly 300 business members.

We are the largest, most influential cannabis trade association in Missouri, speaking with a unified voice to ensure a sensibly regulated and robust state marijuana program.

Tell us about your role at MoCann Trade.

I am one of few women in a leadership role with a cannabis trade association. I have the pleasure of working with over 250 member organizations to ensure we are providing the highest standard of service and value. I get to be creative in our approach in keeping membership up to date on the movements of our industry at a state and federal level. I get


to learn from some of the greatest mentors in the industry and tour incredible facilities. I have the unique pleasure of getting to know the wonderful people who make this industry one I am proud to represent and work for. I feel so lucky to be in a role where I can have greater impact and continue to expand on my industry knowledge and skills.

What makes MoCann Trade unique?

We are one of the most successful Cannabis Trade associations in the country. MoCannTrade formed as a BtoB trade organization to ensure the industry, stakeholders and licensed operators including microbusinesses would have a unified voice to represent our needs with the state agencies, lawmakers, government regulators and policy officials who oversee Missouri’s medical and adult use cannabis programs.

MoCannTrade supports the overwhelming will of Missouri voters, through state Constitutional Amendment 2 approved in November 2018 (medical) and Amendment 3 in November 2022 (adult use), to ensure safe, legal access to cannabis via physician certification of their qualifying medical condition(s) or the provision of Missouri ID demonstrating they are a 21 and up adult to access compliant and safe cannabis products via retail dispensaries.

Melissa Khan | MoCannTrade

How did you get into cannabis?

My little sister.

Although my first introduction to cannabis occurred in high school, it got me into more trouble than good, especially with my little sis.

Flash forward to 2016 and my little sister tells me the news about her new job at a company called BeLeaf, where she was making CBD tincture from the cannabis plant, you know, the same one I got in trouble for. I saw how the work she was doing was helping very sick children who were suffering.

It changed my relationship and view of the plant completely. I saw first-hand the impact medicinal cannabis had in providing a better quality of life for the pediatric patients in Missouri. This ironic introduction into the legal Missouri cannabis industry paired with my love of marketing, inspired me to get involved, to share the healing power of this natural plant-based medicine.

What is it like being a woman in your field?

Being a woman in my field is a great accomplishment given the fact that the cannabis industry as a whole is very male-dominant. I am proud of the organization I work for and our efforts to be more diverse and inclusive. I am also filled with gratitude to be able to have more effect on change.

Speaking of change and gratitude, have you heard of We Are JAINE? It is Missouri’s Women in Cannabis Organization and a wonderful community of women who have been there for me every step of the way in my career in cannabis.

I believe it is important to surround yourself with people who support your vision and journey in cannabis. The industry needs more women in Director / C-Suite / Ownership roles. I have experienced first-hand the difficulties of not being treated equally as my male peers when it comes to pay, promotion, or professional development. My hope is that we can move forward and realize the benefits of having more diversity and inclusion of women in leadership.

No woman wants to shout out the disparities that they face for fear of being scrutinized, ostracized, or being seen as weak.

I am in a unique role where I have the opportunity to speak with so many women in the industry and hear their struggles and there are no doubt challenges women in the industry face that men in the industry generally don’t deal with.

On the flip side, I also get to hear about big accomplishments and see women elevating in the Missouri cannabis industry. I believe those organizations will continue to lead the way to a more diverse future in our industry where this question doesn’t need to be asked anymore.

What advice do you have for women in cannabis?

Get out there and meet new people, find your tribe!

If it’s at events like MoCannTrade, or joining and getting involved with We Are JAINE, there are so many incredible, talented people to connect with and collaborate with.

Showing up to support other women is so powerful and being supported will help you to achieve greater heights. It truly is all about building community.