BLUNTNESS/100: BIPOC Cannabis Honorees
By Taylor Engle
From legacy to legal, BIPOC operators have been absolutely crucial to the cannabis industry’s success.
Despite their centuries of contributions to the advancement of the plant and how it’s perceived and utilized, these same operators have been unfairly targeted by the country’s War on Drugs, and shut out of profiting in the legal industry.
The industry still has a long way to go in regards to equity, expungement, and justice, but that hasn’t stopped BIPOC operators from having a tremendous impact on the industry as we know it today.
Without further ado, here are the 2022 BIPOC business honorees for The BLUNTNESS/100.
1. Berner’s on Haight
Taylor Gang Entertainment rapper Berner is one of the most influential forces in the cannabis industry today.
The founder of the famous Cookies and its sister brand Lemonade, Berner is also behind Berner’s on Haight, the first legal retail cannabis store on upper Haight Street in San Francisco.
This is the first dispensary Berner has been involved with that has roots in his hometown, where he worked his first cannabis industry jobs in the medicinal-only California 1990s.
As one of the most famed regions in the country in regards to early countercultural cannabis movements, the new location pays homage to the industry’s legacy roots and plays an important role in the advancement of equity today.
To follow brand updates, check out Berner’s on Haight on Instagram or Twitter.
2. Elev8 Cannabis
Founded by Seun Adedeji, Elev8 Cannabis is a weed brand dedicated to inclusion, authenticity, empathy, and constant growth.
When Adedeji first opened Elev8, he became the youngest Black man in the U.S. to open a dispensary and eventually the youngest to create a cannabis MSO.
With dispensary locations in Massachusetts and Oregon, Elev8 has come a long way from those early days, when Adedeji slept in his Oregon dispensary during its initial months to save as much money as possible.
Today, Adedeji – also a board member of NCIA – remains committed to cannabis industry growth and success with faith as his guiding light.
“I’ve built great connections and relationships just by having faith and believing in myself. We want more minorities in the game,” Adedeji wrote on the brand’s website.
“We want to help people, and we’re very passionate and motivated to make that happen.”
Elev8 has big plans for the future, dedicated to establishing their role as a gold standard of cannabis – both in their product and treatment of their consumers.
To follow Elev8 Cannabis updates as they continue to grow and expand, visit their LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram pages.
3. Mary and Main
Mary and Main is a landmark cannabis location in the U.S.
Founded by Hope Wiseman, she is the youngest Black woman to own and operate a dispensary.
Wiseman had years of entrepreneurship under her belt when she opened Mary and Main’s doors to Maryland’s medical patients. Since then, the brand has remained dedicated to the medical cannabis community, tailoring their care with compassion at top of mind.
Mary and Main engages with their customers in more ways than one: listing strains in their website for patients to browse through and pair, regularly sending out newsletter with brand and industry news, and providing assistance for medical cannabis card applications.
The team is also quite active on social media, regularly posting updates and testimonials, featuring influencers, and sharing helpful education on the plant.
To stay updated on Mary and Main, follow the dispensary on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube.
4. Simply Pure
Denver-based Simply Pure is another incredibly well-known dispensary in the U.S. cannabis market, as it was the first dispensary in the country to be founded by a Black woman.
CEO Wanda James founded the brand alongside her husband Scott Durrah. Both military veterans and entrepreneurs, James also had years of experience managing congressional campaigns, so the duo had a wide variety of expertise to bring to the (at the time) budding industry.
James is a major advocate for industry equity and justice for veterans using cannabis for major issues like PTSD, insomnia, depression, or anxiety.
She consistently uses her platform to speak on these topics and more, sharing her experience with cannabis entrepreneurs around the world in need of advice.
As for Simply Pure, the dispensary remains a staple for Denver’s cannabis scene, offering consumers a variety of high-quality products crafted by professional certified chefs.
To stay updated on all things Simply Pure, follow their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
5. National Holistic Healing Center
Located in Washington, D.C., the National Holistic Healing Center was founded by Louisiana-born cannabis entrepreneur and industry leader Dr. Chanda Macias.
Dr. Macias has spent the past 15 years devoting her time, talents and expertise to advancing the careers of women and minorities in cannabis, while also improving the quality of life for patients suffering from various ailments.
The National Holistic Healing Center is a physical representation of that dedication. The dispensary carries over 100 medical cannabis products sourced from regional cultivation centers, and the team is well-equipped with both education and experience in the market.
The National Holistic Healing Center aids medical cannabis patients every step of the way, from assisting with the D.C. medical cannabis application process to recommending the best products for whatever ails you.
To stay up to date on National Holistic Healing Center news, follow the brand on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
6. Josephine & Billie’s
Los Angeles-based cannabis speakeasy or “teapad” Josephine & Billie's is absolutely the first of its kind.
The location pays homage to the Jazz age – to the “pearls of Josephine Baker and the poetry of Billie Holiday.”
Both women were persecuted for their cannabis use, which they were outspoken about during the onset of strict prohibition in the U.S.
From the website: “Our cannabis speakeasy, the first of its kind in the U.S. is a callback to the Jazz age, to the pearls of Josephine Baker and the poetry of Billie Holiday. It’s a trip back to the “Teapads” in Black communities of the 20s and 30s where folx would commune to enjoy jazz and cannabis while feeling connected, relaxed, valued and safe.”
Josephine & Billie’s transports visitors back to that point in time – minus the intense fear of getting caught, and any restrictions on who is or isn’t allowed in.
Black- and woman-owned, Josephine & Billie’s is the nation’s first dispensary to be designed by and for Women of Color, aiming to provide consumers with an elevated, welcoming experience.
Headed by CEO Whitney Beatty and COO Ebony Andersen, the dispensary wants as many Women of Color as possible to experience and discover the healing properties of plant medicine, providing visitors with a creative, communal, and safe space to learn and explore.
You can stay up to date on Josephine & Billie’s happenings via their Facebook or Instagram.
7. House of Puff
House of Puff represents a “new high culture” – one with approachable, luxe products and content designed to help the next generation of consumers truly understand how cannabis can work for them.
Founded by Kristina Lopez Adduci, the brand is Latina-owned and artistically inspired, aiming to help women around the world live life unapologetically.
House of Puff offers consumers a variety of beautiful smoking accessories, from rolling papers to “cigarette” holders to vaporizers and pre-rolled cones.
The brand is also passionate about giving back to other women and People of Color in the industry, supporting organizations like Floret Coalition, National Bail Out, NORML, wayOUT NYC, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, the Lower Eastside Girls Club, and more.
The team ultimately wants to replace cannabis stigma with empowerment, providing everyone in the industry with the tools they need to keep evolving and elevating the conversation, from consumption rituals to criminal justice reform.
You can follow House of Puff’s updates on LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, or Instagram.
8. Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe are a federally recognized tribe of Santee Dakota people located in South Dakota.
While Native American tribes throughout the U.S. (and world) have utilized cannabis for spiritual and medicinal purposes for centuries, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe is known for opening a medical dispensary on the South Dakota reservation in 2021.
This is revolutionary for Indigenous people in America – a community that has been stifled and cast aside in most major cultural movements, including cannabis.
Native American culture has contributed greatly to today’s legal cannabis industry, but you wouldn’t know by looking at it. Very few Native American people are operating in the legal industry today, despite their vast amount of knowledge and experience with the plant.
The FSST medical cannabis program aims to set a new standard for Native American tribes all over the country, empowering Indigenous people in cannabis to share their stories and throw their hats into the ring.
9. Illinois Equity Staffing
Founded by professional development “guru” Lynette Johnson and recruiter Shawnee Williams, Illinois Equity Staffing is Chicago’s answer to the need for cannabis equity.
Black-, woman-, and disabled-owned, Illinois Equity Staffing keeps everyone in mind, intent on creating an industry that starts at a level playing field for everyone involved.
The organization offers assistance to job seekers in the industry, like recruiting, job placement, general training, social equity compliance, and more.
To connect with Illinois Equity Staffing and see regular organization updates, follow them on Facebook or Instagram.
10. Dr. Aimon Kopera
Hailing from Thailand, the veritable gate to cannabis in Southeast Asia, Dr. Aimon Kopera’s team of cannabis researchers bring clarity and excellence to businesses working with cannabinoids, hemp, and other plant-based products.
The use of cannabis in Thailand can be traced back thousands of years, and between Dr. Kopera’s firsthand experience with Thai cannabis culture and her 30-plus years of experience in botanical medicine, she is well-equipped to inform the legal industry on best practices, especially as it expands throughout the globe.
Dr. Kopera regularly brings her transformational findings to the rest of the cannabis world, consulting with hospitals, clinics, universities, governments, wellness centers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and cosmetics manufacturers on how to incorporate plant wellness into their work.
She also founded Geneomics Global, an organization uniting a network of proven experts from around the globe to outline and actualize cannabis and hemp industry needs.
To stay up to date on Dr. Kopera’s illuminating work in the industry, follow her on LinkedIn.
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