Groundbreaking Black Entrepreneurs in the Cannabis Space
The cannabis market is flourishing, and as a result, more Black-owned cannabis businesses have emerged in recent years.
The legal cannabis industry is on the rise but is overwhelmingly run by white owners. These black entrepreneurs are bringing change to a white-dominated cannabis sector. Here is a list of Black cannabis entrepreneurs who are making waves in the business and inspiring others of color to get involved.
Wanda L. James
Image Source: Wanda L. James
Wanda James is a force, from her career as a Navy officer and Fortune 100 executive to her work as a political policy contributor, congressional campaign manager, five-time restaurant owner, and cannabis pioneer. Wanda and her husband, Scott Durrah, started Simply Pure and are the first African-Americans to own a registered cannabis shop in the United States. In 2010, the pair established the Simply Pure Dispensary in Denver, Colorado. In 2012, Colorado became one of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Simply Pure sells a variety of marijuana-infused products and concentrates.
She was the Southwest Regional Sales Director for two Fortune 100 firms, Unum Insurance and Avery Dennison, and the Corporate Director of Marketing at Southern California Presbyterian Homes. In Los Angeles, she co-owned and operated five award-winning restaurants with Scott Durrah, a former Marine, and her soulmate.
Wanda's efforts on cannabis reform have prompted her to be contacted by several national politicians, including Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who has appointed Wanda to the Colorado Tourism Board. She's also the president and founder of the Cannabis Global Initiative (CGI), a marketing and consulting organization that focuses on diversity, regulatory framework, and marketing.
Image Source: Emergecanna
Roz McCarthy, the founder, and CEO of Minorities for Medical Marijuana has been named one of the top 100 influential personalities in the cannabis industry by High Times Magazine for 2017. She has effectively crafted cannabis-inclusive legislation, rules, and regulations in collaboration with federal, state, and local legislators.
She's also the founder and CEO of Black Buddha Cannabis, which she founded in 2021. Black Buddha Cannabis is a socially responsible and ecologically conscientious cannabis company dedicated to developing lifestyle and wellness products for the global market.
Minorities for Medical Marijuana, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to cannabis industry education, advocacy, and outreach on social, medical, business, and public policy issues. Roz is dedicated to ensuring that people of color, regardless of their financial condition, have a true quantitative chance to participate in this marketplace and have proper access to care. M4MM is currently active in 24 states around the country.
Roz also is a member of the Advisory Boards for the Congress World Cannabis Business Expo and the Missouri Cannabis Conference and Expo, as well as the California Black Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors. She has more than 20 years of marketing, branding, sales, and business development experience.
Image Source: Esquire
Former NBA Player, Al Harrington suffered a lot of /injuries during his basketball career, some of which threatened to derail his career. His attitude toward recovery altered only once he discovered the medicinal properties of cannabidiol (CBD).
With his enterprises Viola Brands and Harrington Wellness, Harrington has turned his passion for cannabis into a business success.
He is the CEO, Chairman, and Founder of Harrington Wellness and Viola Brands, a cannabis company that provides vapes, extracts, and flowers. The name of the company was inspired by Harrington's grandmother, who has diabetes and glaucoma. Harrington wellness provides a wide range of medicinal marijuana products, including live resins and CBD cream, for athletes as well as regular people suffering from chronic pain.
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Hope Wiseman is a Spelman College graduate and a former investment banker. Hope's drive and hard work lead her to open Mary and Main in the fall of 2017, making her the youngest black woman dispensary owner in the United States. The dispensary, which is based in Prince George's County, Maryland, brings together social activism, education, and philanthropy. Mary and Main provide a variety of therapy treatments as well as cannabis products such as Indica, Sativa, topicals, and extracts. Hope's purpose is to help the Black community understand the importance of their role in the cannabis sector by removing the stigma that the society has established around cannabis.
Image Source: Hollingsworth Company
Joy Hollingsworth and Raft Hollington manage a Seattle-based family pot business. Based in Washington State, The Hollingsworth Company, comprises the Hollingsworth Cannabis & Hemp Company, The Central District 46 Consulting group, and The Be Good Daily Podcast. Joy also serves as Hunger Response Network Specialist at the Northwest Harvest Organization.
Hollingsworth Cannabis Company, which began operations in 2013, sells flowers, infused pre-rolls, CO2 extracts, and CBD products. Eight greenhouses, a post-harvest area, and an extraction lab make up the 30,000-square-foot farm. This farm is a Tier III Producer/Processor in Washington State, family-owned and operated. The Be Good Daily podcast focuses on cannabis news, education, and community building. Central District 46 is a consulting firm that specializes in social justice policies and models for some of the most inventive and creative companies in the cannabis and hemp industries.
Image Source: Coveteur
Chef Miguel Trinidad is building a name for himself in the cannabis culinary industry. Trinidad graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education's Culinary Arts Program in 2007 and was recruited as a line chef at Lola's in SOHO after an externship there. He quickly advanced through the ranks of the kitchen, finally becoming Executive Chef. Trinidad teamed up with coworkers Nicole Ponseca and Enzo Lim to open Maharlika, a modern Filipino restaurant, based on his experience at Lola's.
Soon after, Trinidad opened his second establishment, Jeepney, a "Filipino Gastropub" that won a Time Out New York Award for "Best Seafood Dish of 2013."He is now the owner and executive chef at Jeepney Filipino Gastropub and Maharlika Filipino Moderno.
He is, however, the co-founder of 99th Floor, a cannabis cuisine dining experience, with his business partner Doug Cohen. A five-course meal employing canna oils and butters are part of the cannabis-infused dinner. The THC infusion methods utilized by 99th Floor at about fifteen New York dinners and two west coast pop-ups go well beyond the canna-butter brownies or gelatin-bound candies that most edible consumers are familiar with.
If you're a cannabis consumer wanting to make a bigger difference in the fight for true equity and change in the cannabis industry. You can shop at a Black-owned cannabis business, helping people and businesses who need and deserve your support, whether it's a smoke shop or a full-fledged dispensary.
Article By Aakriti Rawat, Beverage Trade Network