Pot. Weed. Kush. Ganja. Mary Jane. No matter what you choose to call cannabis (the genus name for marijuana), it is undeniable that the once taboo drug is becoming a cultural force.
This is thanks in large part to a boom in the medical marijuana industry, and a very small uptick in legalized recreational use of the drug in nine U.S. states and Washington, D.C. According to a Forbes.com report, growth within the cannabis industry will be unprecedented around the world over the next decade, with spending on legal cannabis projected to hit $57 billion by 2027. And as the interest in investing dollars into the medical cannabis market grows, so does the interest in finding new ways to create experiences and products that capitalize on its many benefits.
The two most common cannabinoid compounds discussed are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or hemp and marijuana. CBD is non-psychoactive and THC is psychoactive. THC is most commonly consuming via smoking or ingestion via edibles and produces a euphoric effect, while CBD can often be found in oil form. CBD can be used for things like pain management, acne, and may help treat anxiety and depression.
Currently, much of the cannabis industry remains glaringly white, and racial disparities prevail among arrests for illegal marijuana. Ahead are five badass women of color who are fighting for equity in the cannabis industry.
1. Iyana Edourd, Founder of KushandCute
Edourd who began working in the cannabis industry in 2016, started KushandCute in November 2017, and focuses on high-quality hemp-infused skincare products. The brand came about from her knack for making her own DIY body products. Outside of cannabis skincare, Edourd also educates women of color on the various uses and health benefits of CBD and organizes events that connect users and non-users with female-owned cannabis brands.
2. Dr. Lakisha Jenkins
Dr. Jenkins is an herbalist, and a founding board member of the California Cannabis Industry Association. She has a doctorate in naturopathy, and began her research on natural and holistic medicine after it was discovered that her young daughter had two kinds of brain tumors. She has had a hand in writing California's legalization laws and urging women of color to carve out a space in the cannabis industry.
3. Gia Moron, Executive Vice President Women Grow
Moron, is the former Communications Director for Women Grow, a national network of cannabis professionals, that aims to establish over 1,000 women-owned businesses within the cannabis industry. Now the Executive Vice President, Moron has over 25 years of public relations experience and became interested in the cannabis industry after seeing outlets like CNN cover the investment opportunities that cannabis presents. She became involved with Women Grow after she wrote to the CEO at the time, and urged the need for the presence of women of color at its networking events.
Parks is the founder of Mirage Medical, a marijuana dispensary based in California, that delivers cannibis within San Francisco limits. The business is currentlt awaiting approval for San Francisco's Adult Use Cannabis Program. She connects with communities of color through the arts, and began advocating for education on the misconceptions surrounding cannabis after her brother was jailed for a year on charges of marijuana possession.
5. Ophelia Chong, Founding Member of Asian Americans for Cannabis Education
Chong is photographer, creative director, art director and educator. She is the founder of Stock Pot Images, a stock-photo agency that specializes in diverse cannabis-related imagery. The brand was inspired by her sister's use of cannabis to alleviate the pain associated with an incurable disease, and motivated Chong to expand upon the imagery surrounding those who use cannabis. As one of the founders of Asian Americans for Cannabis Education, she works to connect the global Asian community on cannabis news, issues, and policies.
Tiffany Curtis is a Philly-based freelance writer, podcaster, and sex positivist whose work focuses on empowerment for women of color, race and culture, and sex positivity. She has written for sites like Blavity, Refinery29, and Hello Giggles.