The Flow State: Angela White on How to Get an Equitable Start in Cannabis

Cannabis Equity with Angela White, Success Centers | Flow State Friday
Cannabis Equity with Angela White, Success Centers | Flow State Friday / Bluntness Media

The Flow State is a special video series presented by The Bluntness, featuring thought-provoking conversations with leaders and innovators throughout the cannabis industry.

In this episode, we are joined by Angela White, Equity for Industry Program Manager at Success Centers, an organization whose mission is to empower marginalized community members through education, employment and art programs, career coaching and job placement.

White has developed an incredible array of workshops, resources, and growth opportunities for community members and Success Centers partners, seeking to bring much-needed equity to an unbalanced industry.

We talked about mom-and-pop cannabis operations, using cannabis for migraines, and how to conduct yourself when preparing for a job in cannabis for the first time.

The Bluntness Sits Down With Cannabis Equity Expert Angela White

Hailing from the Bay Area, White has been at the core of cannabis culture in Northern California for years. She helped launch one of the first medical cannabis collectives in East Palo Alto, and later a dispensary in San Jose.

Her firsthand knowledge of the industry and how it functions allows her to provide well-rounded and in-depth support to members of Success Centers, properly preparing them for their start in the industry. 

White recalls her time at the dispensary in San Jose, when legal cannabis was still a novel concept in California and operators were still having to work half-in and half-out of the shadows.

“When you’re working in a mom-and-pop organization, you do a little bit of everything. The hiring, the cleaning, budtending, answering the phones,” White said.

“So I had this experience, and maybe a year before I came to Success Centers, [CEO] Liz Jackson-Simpson told my daughter, ‘I’m going to start a cannabis program, and I don’t have anyone I can use to help me launch this.’ And my daughter says, ‘Why don’t you call my mom?’”

After Jackson-Simpson got over the initial shock of being referred to someone’s mom for cannabis expertise, she and White connected on a phone call, and Jackson-Simpson quickly realized what her next steps would be.

“She said, ‘I need you to come work for me.’ And I said, ‘When do you want me to come?’ She said, ‘Yesterday,’” White said. The rest was history in the making.

Success Centers Helps People Get an Equitable Start in The Industry

Since she began at Success Centers about four years ago, White has brought a lot to the table, from virtual hiring events and expungement clinics to a cannabis resumé clinic with mock interviews and mentors available for thorough guidance.

“We also just recently launched an equity pathway dispensary training program. It’s a paid internship where they learn the history of cannabis, cannabis in the body, cannabis products and its uses, and dispensary operations 101,” White said. 

“And then, we also have the Equity for Industry workshops, where we’re working with San Francisco Certified Equity and those who are seeking to become verified, who want to start a cannabis business.”

For these workshops, Success Centers brings in industry experts to speak on managing a cash-only business, understanding non-disclosure agreements, perfecting product recipes, and anything else the community needs.

A lot of job application preparation tips are pretty universal no matter the industry, but since cannabis is so unique, there are definitely some nuances to consider when applying for a job in weed.

“You’re not going to be able to come to work high. I think people think because it’s the cannabis industry, you’ve got to be stoned at work. No! That’s not the case,” White said with a laugh.

“It’s a fun industry, but it’s not for you to have fun while you’re at work.”

One Hit For Migraines And Staying Accountable in a Small Industry

While White draws a strict line between cannabis consumption and professionalism, her favorite way to consume the plant – when the time is right – is good old-fashioned flower.

“I suffer from migraines, so I’ve been on this one-hitter-quitter regimen for over 30 years, and I haven’t had a migraine,” White said. “That’s what works for me. The flower. I couldn’t do without.”

For anyone who’s never tried cannabis before but is interested in giving it a shot, White encourages people to remember that cannabis works differently for everybody, and that’s okay.

“I would tell them about my experience with cannabis, and why I just use a one-hitter-quitter regimen,” White said.

“Do not be afraid of it. Your body is only going to use the properties in the cannabis that it needs, and the rest of it will just flow out. Don’t be afraid, because whatever your condition is, it may truly help you without the hard side effects of other drugs.”

White’s passion for cannabis and how it’s improved her quality of life shines through with her work, and she remains dedicated to providing as much preparation and insight she possibly can to everyone at Success Centers.

One of her most valuable pieces of advice she shares with almost everyone? Staying true to your word.

“This industry is very small, and so your word is your bond in this business. I tell people that all the time. Make sure you’re ethically trying to do everything that is correct, because it’s a small community, and people do talk,” White said.

That ethical intent is something White expects her mentees to practice not only in the cannabis industry, but in the industry they’re exiting on their way into weed. She encourages people to do exit letters and give proper notice before moving on.

Every piece of advice or guidance White offers is crucial, especially considering the goal of providing true equity and expungement for communities who’ve been negatively affected by the so-called War on Drugs. 

“I’m working hard because I know that by having people that look like you who own these facilities, and who have experience or have someone in their families experience the War on Drugs, they’re more likely to be friendly towards bringing people on in different kinds of ways,” White said.

“It’s kind of like trying to create an autonomy around folks that look like you, to make sure you’re getting a fair chance.”

And for anyone interested in getting a job in the industry with no clue where to start?

“Call me!” White said, offering her phone number. “If you’re interested in working, send me your resumé. Let’s get on the phone. Let’s talk and see what your goals and aspirations are for the cannabis industry.”

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