It’s no secret that Black and Brown communities have been historically disproportionately affected by the legal system’s relentless attack on cannabis that now seems disturbingly senseless as more and more states legalize marijuana. A report done by the American Civil Liberties Union shows that Black people are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested on a marijuana charge than whites individuals, and that most arrests aren’t of drug lords or dealers – they’re of civilians carrying small amounts of cannabis. There are Black people sitting in prison for years for carrying a substance that’s being increasingly legalized – sometimes in the very state where they were incarcerated.
To say the Black community hasn’t felt as welcomed or as eager to enter the cannabis industry as other groups is a massive understatement. It’s also tragic, since this industry appears to be one that will continue to grow and be very lucrative. The Black community deserves a platform and the chance to innovate in the space. But hesitancy to do so is understandable, given the history. That’s why those who do embark on a journey to work in the marijuana industry are so impressive and necessary. Today, we shine the spotlight on a few Black women who are making moves in the cannabis industry.
Hope Wiseman is the youngest Black woman in America to own a dispensary. The 29-year-old’s dispensary Mary and Main is located in Prince George’s Country, Maryland, and is meant to be more than just a place to buy cannabis. Wiseman works hard to make sure it’s also a place where people can learn about the plant, as well as understand how the legal system’s persecution of cannabis users has disproportionately impacted minority communities. Wiseman started her company with several family members, many of which have extensive medical backgrounds. Wiseman has been a true pioneer in many ways – overcoming the fact that the cannabis industry is male-dominated and white-dominated, and the simple reality that women struggle to get capital for any sort of business more than other groups, according to Tech Crunch.
Symone Gates is the creator of Bade Collection, a line of CBD-infused skincare products that battle inflammation. Her background is in fitness, having worked as a corporate trainer for years. Her curiosity for and eventual work with CBD products came from her own experiences of battling chronic inflammation from her vigorous training schedule. She first experimented with CBD products at home and once she realized their powers, she decided to create the Bade Collection. Her beautifully organized website allows you to shop by need – relax, recover, and relieve – and features products such as healing balms, spot treatment oils, and tension reducing body scrubs.
To all of the New Yorkers who’ve been praying for cannabis to be legalized for years so the oppressive overkill of legal action against it could come to an end, you can thank Dasheeda Dawson. She’s been actively fighting for the legalization of cannabis in NY for years. She’s the founder of The Weed Head Company and acts as a business strategist for other cannabis companies. Most recently, she’s been given the task of overseeing compliance and licensing for recreational and medical marijuana use in Portland, OR. She’s a best-selling author of “How to Succeed In The Cannabis Industry,” producer of the “She Blaze” podcast which aims to bring cannabis into the mainstream conversation, and is the founding chair of the Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition.
Dee is an incredible story of resilience because she was in fact charged with cannabis-related crimes in Maryland before cannabis was legalized and she still persisted in creating her CBD wellness brand called Oracle Wellness Co. She got her start working in a cannabis kitchen, learning about the many ailments hemp and CBD can alleviate, and has since become an active educator on the powers of the product. Her shop, based in Portland, Oregon, offers an extensive array of products and services that prove how cannabis can be impactful in every area of life. In addition to edible treats like CBD chocolate truffles, the company also offers a doula program, cooking classes, and workshops on cannabis.
Jasmine Mans makes clothing, yes, but she does so much more. Through her apparel company Buy Weed From Women, she advocates for women in the cannabis industry. She had hoped to work in it herself but was faced with the reality that a cannabis license in her home state of New Jersey would cost a pretty 20K. So instead, she founded her company that uplifts and supports those who do work in the cannabis space. Her overall goal is built right into the name of the brand. In addition to making their cute and comfy hoodies, t-shirts, and more available to individuals, Buy Weed From Women also sells their products wholesale and does collaborations with other brands who share their values.
With an extensive background in digital marketing, Pryor decided to hone her powers in helping brands reach niche audiences while fighting the major inclusivity issue the cannabis industry faces through her company Cannaclusive. The company provides marketing and venture capitalist consulting for cannabis-centric clients such as cannabis yoga instructors, ganja rappers, and beyond. They have a regularly updated and valuable list on their site called the InclusiveBase where they list Black-, LatinX-, woman-, and other minority-owned cannabis companies. This is from their mission statement: “Cannaclusive was created to facilitate fair representation of minority cannabis consumers. … We make it easier for brands to communicate with diverse audiences and ensure that minority consumers are not an afterthought, but a valued ally in the fight for legalization and destigmatization.”
Cassondra “Khadijah” Adams
Khadijah Adams has spearheaded several successful projects that bring light to the lack of inclusivity in the marijuana industry and educate investors on the importance of investing in minority-owned cannabis businesses. She is the author of “The Minority Report,” a book that details the stories of successful minority entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry as well as those who have played pivotal roles in the rapid legalization of marijuana in America. She herself is an active investor in minority-owned cannabis companies and she recently launched Khadijah Adams, LLC dba Girl Get That Money, a consulting and coaching agency for women in business. Adams also sits on the board of several organizations working to empower minorities and women in the cannabis industry.
Gorilla RX is the first Black woman-owned dispensary in Los Angeles and was founded by a mother-daughter duo who both go by the name “Kika,” with the mom going by “Big Kika.” Over 300 Black patrons lined up to be at the grand opening of the dispensary on August 25, 2021 in the historically black neighborhood of Crenshaw. The dispensary recently commissioned a giant mural in its neighborhood, celebrating its consumers. It’s important to the Gorilla RX team that they invest in their community, which is why they primarily hire from right within their neighborhood. They didn’t get their start easily, as the application for their license and the other hoops they had to jump through spurred a very public lawsuit by the business owners against the city of LA. But they persisted and now they’re thriving.