Only 8% of cannabis CEOs are women and even fewer are African American dispensary owners.
“I’m just a little unicorn,” Dr. Chanda Macias, CEO of Ilera Holistic Healthcare, said on the most recent Benzinga Cannabis Hour (see video below).
Ilera is a Louisiana-based medical marijuana cultivator and processor. Macias, a woman of color and of Latino descent, emphasized the predominance of white men in high-status positions within the cannabis space.
There’s a need to be “more vocal” to help women and people of color, she explained, adding:
“Giving back to the community is important… you really have to focus on social equity and Social Justice Reform.”
Protecting patients and providing them with the ability to “treat themselves for different medical and health conditions and not be incarcerated for it,” is crucial, Macias highlighted.
‘Cannot Put Policy Between Mother & Child’
As a patient advocate who continues to “fight the fight,” Macias also addressed the challenges both grown-ups and children face when it comes to the access to medical cannabis product.
Being the CEO and Chairman of Women Grow, Macias spent years helping parents that are refugees, and are forced to go into different markets to get medicine for their children.
“You cannot put a policy between a mother and a child,” Macias disclosed.
The collaboration between Ilera Holistic and HOPE, a brainchild of Erica Daniels, founder of Hope Grows for Autism, has recently resulted in the launching of a line of medical cannabis tinctures for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Louisiana.
Cannabis Is Breaking Down Borders And Differences
Zelira Therapeutics Ltd.‘s (OTCQB: ZLDAF) Global CEO and Managing Director. Dr. Oludare Odumosu is yet another high-positioned African American within the space that recently opted to partner with HOPE.
He said that Zelira remains attractive to investors as it offers both pharmaceutical-grade THC products that are further licensed to partners and a growing portfolio of consumer brands focusing on the medical benefits of CBD.
“The global markets are beginning to really think through the CBD approval processes,” disclosed Odumosu, citing Australia and Germany.
“We don’t grow, we don’t process, and we don’t dispense medical cannabis, but you could think of us as the first truth MSO,” he explained.
“We could rapidly accelerate the development of these medicines and then partner with licensed credible partners in approved markets who are approved to grow, process, and dispense these medicines,” Odumosu added.
The Australia-based medical cannabis company recently consolidated its global leadership to better position itself for growth in international markets, including the U.S., U.K., and Germany.
As a part of that plan, Odumosu, who had been serving as the company’s CEO and managing director for the U.S., was promoted to the global CEO.
“I stand on the shoulders of the likes of Dr. Chanda Macias” and other cannabis advocates, Oludare said, adding he is committed to “doing what those that have gone before us did for us so that we would hopefully” progress.
As his other African American industry peers, he is “disappointment when you look at the numbers and how many people like myself are reflected at the opportunity centers in the cannabis industry.”
Cannabis Is “A Crazy Battle”
Wanda James, the first African American woman to own a marijuana dispensary in the country, revealed that “Colorado has done a really good job of being not where it needs to be with cannabis ownership,” citing there are 32 black owners a 111 Latina/Latino owners in the state, compared to 1747 white owners.
Still, they are “trying to move forward,” as social equity is “coming to Denver eleven years after legalization happened” following the years of preventing those with a drug a non-violent drug felon from being a part of the industry, said James, CEO, and founder of Simply Pure Dispensary.
Being a veteran, James could experience firsthand all the struggles that come with broader acceptance of CBD as a treatment for specific conditions.
Even though the military service members are no longer forbidden to use CBD products, it doesn’t mean that the veterans are encouraged to use them, she said.
However, she pointed out that the most important thing is, after all, education, revealing they are “going to be looking at sending black and brown kids to a full ride to law school.”
“If cannabis could send people to prison, then cannabis needs to send people to law school,” James stated.
The Benzinga Cannabis Hour is produced every week and brings together top executives, entrepreneurs, and experts from all corners of the cannabis industry. Each show features three or more guests from a broad spectrum of expertise in cannabis.
To tune in, stream the episode below; click subscribe on the official Benzinga YouTube channel; or visit BZCannabisHour.com.
Cannabis Hour is also published on most major podcasting platforms, including Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker, Pocket Casts, and more.
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