One of the undeniable realities of the War on Drugs is that it had a disproportionate impact on Black cannabis enthusiasts. Even so, there are numerous Black pioneers within the world of cannabis that have made an immeasurable impact.
This is the reality, even though there are a multitude of barriers that have restricted Black entrepreneurs from the legal marijuana industry. In fact, some of the ways these pioneers have affected the industry may come as a surprise. There’s no better time of year than Black History Month to honor these pioneers.
The Canna MDs
In 2014, Doctors Rachel and Jessica Knox, who are known as the Canna MDs, founded the American Cannabinoid Clinics in 2014. The purpose of the clinics is to deliver “precision cannabinoid medicine to every patient seeking a personalized approach to healing.”
They got the idea to start the clinic when their mother, Dr. Janice Knox learned about the diversity of medical marijuana patients, along with the benefits of it while her daughters were in college. Now, there are multiple clinics operating throughout the state of Oregon. Their impact when it comes to spreading the word about the therapeutic properties of cannabis has been tremendous.
Becoming a dispensary owner comes with enough barriers for Black entrepreneurs as is. That’s why it’s so impressive that a Black woman was able to do so at the young age of 25, making her the youngest Black dispensary owner in the nation. Wiseman graduated from Spelman College, an HBCU, and has a background as an investment banker.
Wiseman operates Mary and Main dispensary in Prince George’s County, Maryland, with the pillars of social activism, education and philanthropy at the core of their operations. Mary and Main provides a wide range of therapy treatments and products that help customers aid their discomfort that includes topicals, dry herb and extracts.
Wanda Smith founded Simply Pure Dispensary with her husband, Scott Durrah, in Denver, Colorado in 2010. When they opened the dispensary, they became the first Black dispensary owners in the nation. Since both Wanda and Scott are both veterans, they pride themselves on serving their fellow servicemen and women.
Given the fact that they opened Simply Pure at the dawn of cannabis legalization in Colorado, they’ve been able to adjust accordingly in order to provide one of the best dispensary experiences in Denver.
Brittany Moore & Alphonso T. Blunt Jr.
There aren’t very many equity-oriented dispensaries out there, and an Oakland couple recognized the need for one. That’s why Brittany Moore and Alphonso T. Blunt Jr. opened the first equity dispensary in Oakland, Blunts+Moore. They are among the earliest beneficiaries of an equity-program launched in 2017 meant to license Oakland residents with a local cannabis conviction, or who are residents of areas that experience a disproportionately higher number of cannabis-related arrests.
Blunts+Moore operate a 4,000 square foot dispensary that offers hundreds of products including edibles, concentrates and herbs. Since they’re demonstrating an ability to thrive as beneficiaries of the new Oakland equity program, the hope is that they’re providing a blueprint for other Black entrepreneurs to follow in the future.