"There's so much money to be made in the cannabis industry. Women of color have been on the bottom for so long. Why not allow us to get power for ourselves?" she asked. She came to the event, put on by Supernova Women, because she's interested in the changing laws that could allow her to distribute her weed to dispensaries.Supernova was founded by Lencho, along with Amber Senter and Nina Parks. The organization makes it a priority to eliminate the barriers to entry in the cannabis industry for people of color and victims of the drug war, and they do so through grassroots campaigns and policy education. Supernova's events are distinctly different from other industry conferences, which can cost hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars. They're free, and they feel more like an inspiring college seminar with your favorite woke professor."Everyone talks about how inclusive the industry wants to be and how they care about the impact of the war on drugs on people of color. But when you go into these industry events, you can see that there isn't any action on the part of the industry to include the community," Parks told me in a conference call with all three founders before the event.
In an effort to cohere California's regulatory system, Governor Jerry Brown signed MMRSA into law last October. Though MMRSA initially caused some problems and an increase in city bans on MED due to the way it was written (badly), the law, which takes practical effect in 2018, is the first to set up a statewide licensing system for the commercial cultivation, manufacture, retail sale, transport, distribution, delivery, and testing of medical cannabis. In addition, for the first time, dispensaries will be allowed to be for-profit.
For women of color, knowledge about the industry is so crucial to be able to shift our position economically.
Other participants echoed his disbelief throughout the night, but Cue also had some answers. "The cannabis industry is an emerging industry, but it's a microcosm of America," he explained. "There's not a lot of people of color represented in a lot of industries, let alone women of color. You're starting to see more of us come along, but we have an uphill battle. I cannot tell you how many times I've faced law enforcement. I feel like I have a right to be in this industry just because of that; I have more stripes than a tiger. Brothers are scared to come out and say, 'Hey, I own a weed business,' because we're already getting arrested for it."The night closed out with a panel of three women of color in various sectors of the industry—Isamarie Perez, the head of business development at Meadow, a dispensary-facing tech company; Kathleen Villareal, a dispensary owner; and Ophelia Chong, who started a stock photography company to combat stereotypes of cannabis users—moderated by Senter. But the final word was surreptitiously stolen by a white woman who felt the need to add on to a panelist's answers during a Q&A with the audience ("If you had one piece of advice for a new entrepreneur, what would it be?").She stood up, moved to the center of the room, and announced herself by her full name. "When things get difficult, just remember we're doing this for the patients," she said in a manner that took at least three full minutes. When she was done making a point that Lencho had already touched upon at the beginning of the evening, everyone clapped and dispersed. It seemed insane, yet strangely expected."I don't know why they always do that," Lencho whispered to me after.