Black Women Changing Up Cannabis Culture

Paving the way for equality, equity, and generational wealth

Cannabinthusiast | Black Women Changing Up Cannabis Culture | Black Women Cannabis Reform

Unsurprisingly, the majority of legal marijuana business owners and founders identify as White men – about 70% of them, in fact. Historically, White men are the demographic most likely to have generational wealth to invest and can easily obtain startup capital from investors.

White men make up about 31% of the entire population – so when it comes to the future of cannabis as a business, where does that leave the rest of us? As waves of medical marijuana and recreational cannabis laws sweep the country, these amazing Black women are at the forefront of the tide, doing everything they can to make sure no one gets left behind.

Cannabinthusiast | Black Women Changing Up Cannabis Culture | Wanda James
Wanda James

It’s impossible to have a conversation about industry innovators without invoking the name Wanda James. A Navy veteran, she is the co-founder and CEO of Simply Pure Dispensary, and the first Black legal dispensary owner in the United States.

A former lieutenant, she and her husband – a chef – invested in several Los Angeles and Denver area restaurants, while James switched gears to politics. She earned a spot on President Barack Obama’s 2008 National Finance Committee and worked to help inmates facing marijuana charges.

James’ work hit too close to home when her brother received a 10-year sentence for marijuana possession. Shortly after, James went all-in, and broadened her work in cannabis, opening the dispensary with her husband, and becoming a managing partner of the Cannabis Global Initiative.

A passionate public speaker, James is a true industry trailblazer. She travels the world over advocating for the legalization for marijuana, but also as an advocate for veterans, and minorities trying to catch a toehold in the industry.

Listen to her talk more about the racial disparity in the cannabis industry, and what can – and should – be done to even the playing field.

Cannabinthusiast | Black Women Changing Up Cannabis Culture | Hope Wiseman
Hope Wiseman

Money talks! And nobody knows this better than business powerhouse, Hope Wiseman. She wrote her own chapter of American history by being the youngest Black woman to open a legal dispensary at the age of 25.

But her dispensary, Mary and Main, is much more than a place to purchase legal marijuana – it’s a hub of valuable information. Whether in person, or reading online, Wiseman encourages users to learn about the plant itself, offers resources to learn about the “War on drugs,” how the waging of this “war” disproportionately affects minority communities, and what can be done to dismantle these harmful systems in our society.

Wiseman’s background in finance set her up for success when marijuana became legalized, and she saw enormous potential early on. The problem? It takes money to make money, and minorities are less likely to receive startup capital from lenders. Part of Wiseman’s mission is to make the business of marijuana more equitable by helping minority entrepreneurs attain the funding they need to flourish.

Learn from one of the best, with this detailed session on how to open your own dispensary, hosted by Wiseman herself.

Cannabinthusiast | Black Women Changing Up Cannabis Culture | Amber E Senter
Amber E Senter

Founder, and executive officer of MAKR House, Amber E. Senter is a coach and mentor to aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs. Her 20-year background in marketing and project management make her a leading voice of the industry. Senter is on a mission to diversify the business of cannabis, provide resources for minorities facing roadblocks on their path to success, and encourage and empower others to even the playing field.

After a career as a U.S. Coast Guard, Senter pivoted to graphic design, marketing, and sales, landing at Compassion Medical Edibles in Oakland, California. With gender and racial disparity in the cannabis industry being a common denominator in her work, Senter co-founded Supernova Women in 2015. Their focus is to empower people of color – particularly women – to start sustainable cannabis businesses of their own.

Her work is paving the way to help people of color, veterans, and the LGBTQIA+ community to create long-term sustainability in the world of cannabis economics. Senter has a practical approach in spreading the message of equality; in her varied speaking engagements she encourages individuals to educate themselves and provides resource recommendations.

Via Supernova Women, she has pushed for fairer legislation, and puts pressure on the California market, calling for a reduction on taxed revenue, and more equitable cannabis regulation throughout the country.

Watch her deliver the closing keynote address for the 2022 Full Spectrum Conference, which aims to shine light on the unique challenges of LGBTQIA+ cannabis communities.

Cannabinthusiast | Black Women Changing Up Cannabis Culture | Mary Pryor
Mary Pryor

If the fight for cannabis equality had a warrior chieftain, Mary Pryor would be right at the front lines wearing a giant horned helmet. Outspoken and high profile, Pryor uses her voice to speak up for those society attempts to discredit or silence all together.

An expert strategist and brilliant marketer, Pryor is the senior director of Strategy and Web3 for the Wasserman agency, and co-founder of Cannaclusive, which aims to facilitate the diversification of and representation of cannabis entrepreneurs, and consumers.

Destigmatization and inclusivity are the key components of her goal; her efforts include creating a library of stock imagery that features minorities, people of color, and particularly women. Most recently, she’s become a board member at The Parent Company, owner of several highly publicized cannabis brands, including Jay-Z’s Monogram.

Check out this episode of the Everything’s Political podcast where she talks about the challenges faced by women in cannabis, and how current laws actively damage communities of color.

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