The cannabis industry can feel like some exclusive members-only club. It is especially difficult to penetrate a club where the entry point is unknown.
Navigating conversations around the growing cannabis movement will inevitably lead to a discussion around race, class, health and wealth. And for good reason. The medicinal effects of cannabis have been studied for years, and the rate at which Black people are disproportionately arrested is well documented. It also goes without saying that cannabis is a lucrative business. Yet, a more complex layer of the conversation is the method in which one portion of the population is taking full advantage of the business opportunities of the cannabis industry, while Black people, other people of color and the non-wealthy are left out.
The cannabis industry can feel like some exclusive members-only club. It is especially difficult to penetrate a club where the entry point is unknown. How would an average person with no generational wealth enter the cannabis business? What type of research should be done and is it worth the investment? Mary Pryor, a Cannabis Marketer and Co-Creator of Cannaclusive, travels the world educating people of color on these very questions.
Before becoming a cannabis marketer, Pryor experienced and still experiences the healing power of cannabis. “Cannabis is literally saving my life. I have Crohn’s Disease and I haven’t had to undergo chemotherapy or anything since July,” she says. “Before cannabis, I was in the hospital 34 times from 2012 until June. I know it works. I don’t even know if people are really “there” in terms of the powerful medicinal effect. I’m passionate because it saved my life and I want to share that.”
This passion for sharing how impactful cannabis has been on her health sparked a deeper investigation. Pryor spent an extensive amount of time researching the trends, the different strands and understanding the lucrative business that hasn’t seemed to include Black people. According to Pryor, “The industry is growing, and Black people are being left out of the financial rise of the cannabis business. And this is on purpose. It’s by design. If we (Black people) don’t figure this out, we are about to be really screwed.”
Most media depictions of the face of the cannabis industry is a stark contrast to the face of the millions of people incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. The visual image associated with the cannabis business is typically not a person of color. This contributes to the feeling of otherness and exclusivity. Which is why Cannaclusive was launched.
“The purpose of Cannaclusive is to create diversity in imagery in products and content referencing cannabis. We are doing a photo project that can be used to show Black people consuming cannabis in diverse surroundings. We want to be able to provide content, classes and online seminars on how to invest in cannabis and teach about different strains and how they help our health needs. We are trying to get Black people (and other people of color) in the cannabis game because this is not some fly by night business fad. We are trying to deliver this message in a way that’s feasible, realistic and accessible. We want to make it possible for poor folks from the hood (like myself) to get involved and make money. Black people, poor people, people of color are being left out of this conversation.”
People like Russell Simmons and Snoop Dog are reportedly investing in the industry. However, if the rise in cannabis industry is nearly as lucrative as it’s reported, then investing early can result in generational wealth. As the income gap continues to grow, the cost of college education soars and the working-poor become even more encompassing, the need for sound investments is evident. As such, Pryor has provided concrete steps that will put you on the road towards establishing your own cannabis business.
How to set up your own business
- If you are serious about this, do not stay in a state that doesn’t have recreational or a fully legal system in place. If you are going to stay in a state like NY, find cannabis meetup groups as part of your research.
- Take your time and learn how to grow it.
- Research. Learn about different strains. Become a user (not saying stay in your house and smoke all day, but educate yourself on it). Learn about micro-dosing.
- Learn about all the different cannabis brands. Who owns them? Where did they come from?
- Learn the stock market and invest in cannabis.
- Don’t listen to the current narrative about how cannabis is being marketed. Yes, we see the images off all the non-people of color in all the campaigns. It makes it feel like that world can’t include you. Disregard that.
- Spread the news. When you learn, teach somebody else. Don’t repeat the same mistakes that were made with the technology boom. Don’t be left outside the gate and later beg for inclusion.