Let’s be honest. Black entrepreneurs looking to get into the highly lucrative cannabis industry often face barriers that others don’t.
It shouldn’t be this way, and yet it is.
So this month, we want to take some time out to honor the Black cannabis entrepreneurs who have beaten the odds to boldly and bravely rise through the ranks in the industry.
Back in 2010, Colorado was celebrating a decade of legalized medical marijuana. And they were a mere two years from making recreational marijuana legal.
It was during this year that Wanda Smith and her husband, Scott Durrah, founded Simply Pure Dispensary in Denver. And even though weed had been legal for ten years, they effectively became the first Black dispensary owners in the nation.
Simply Pure Dispensary has made adjustments over the years as the face of cannabis legalization changed. But as veterans, both Wanda and Scott continue take take special pride in serving fellow servicemen and women.
The Canna MDs
When Rachel and Jessica Knox were in college, their mother, Dr. Janice Knox, was learning about the diversity of medical marijuana patients and the therapeutic benefits cannabis delivered. And there was a need for more and better information for these patients. This got the Knox sisters thinking.
So in 2014, now doctors themselves, they founded the American Cannabinoid Clinics to provide “precision cannabinoid medicine to every patient seeking a personalized approach to healing.” Now branded the ‘Canna MDs,’ they are connected with multiple clinics in Oregon.
They’ve gone the extra mile in spreading the word about the healing properties of marijuana and de-stigmatizing it for otherwise wary patients.
While Wanda Smith was the first Black dispensary owner in 2010, Hope Wiseman has the distinction of being the youngest Black woman to open a dispensary.
In 2017, at the age of 25, she opened the Mary and Main dispensary in Maryland. Graduating from Spelman College and with a background in investment banking, Wiseman defied the overwhelming odds faced by a Black woman wanting to start a business in the industry.
All too aware of how negatively the war on drugs impacted Black communities, she placed social activism, philanthropy, and education at the core of her operations while ensuring the dispensary always provides an array of therapy treatments and products.
Brittany Moore and Alphonso T. Blunt Jr.
In the same year that Wiseman opened her dispensary in Maryland, Brittany Moore and Alphonso T. Blunt Jr. opened the first equity dispensary in Oakland, California.
Recognizing the need for equity-oriented dispensaries, Moore and Blunt opened the aptly named Blunts+Moore. They were among the earliest beneficiaries of an equity-program in the area that helped license residents in areas with a disproportionately higher number of cannabis-related arrests. (The program also helps those with with local cannabis convictions.)
Now operating out of a successful 4,000 square foot dispensary, it’s their hope that they will inspire other Black entrepreneurs to follow their lead and take advantage of such programs.
Our Hats Are off to Black Cannabis Entrepreneurs
As cannabis marketing experts, we know how tough it is to make it in this industry. So we’re profoundly impressed with Black cannabis entrepreneurs with the pluck and the fortitude to thrive in the world of marijuana.
We hope your achievements are celebrated far FAR beyond the month of February.
And for more informational and inspirational stories about the industry, keep checking back with our blog.