If you peek through the cracks of Oregon's mountainous pot surplus, the future of weed is bright—and it's no longer exclusively white and male.
In a proud moment for the state's recreational cannabis program, two Black-owned businesses recently were awarded $30,000 apiece in grants—the first instance of tax revenue from cannabis sales going back to the communities negatively impacted by racially biased cannabis criminalization.
The pivotal moment was facilitated by NuLeaf, a nonprofit working to increase successful outcomes for cannabis entrepreneurs of color. The money went to Adrian Wayman, who helped pass city courier laws and earned the first license to deliver legal cannabis with his Green Box service, and North Portland's Green Hop dispensary, which runs a successful internship program teaching employable skills to at-risk young adults of age to consume.
Women, meanwhile, continue to make an impact on Portland's cannabis culture. The artful Broccoli magazine frequently features women of color working in and around the industry. Beth Schechter works to protect cannabis from predatory intellectual property claims as head of the Open Cannabis Project. And women-owned companies like Drip Sweets, Homegrown Apothecary and Empower BodyCare are everywhere. To build upon that foundation, a women-focused business accelerator, the Initiative, provides training and funding resources to women-run companies.
We can still do better, of course. But by actively supporting women and people of color in the cannabis industry, we're setting an example for new states going legal.
"Cannabis is a big part of Portland's future," says Jesce Horton, co-founder of NuLeaf. "We all have an important part to play in making sure Portland can be its best."