Only 8% of cannabis CEOs are women and even fewer are African American pharmacy owners.
“I’m just a little unicorn,” said Dr. Chanda Macias, CEO of Ilera Holistic Healthcare, on the latest Benzinga Cannabis Hour (see video below).
Ilera is a Louisiana-based medical marijuana breeder and processor. Macias, a woman of skin color and of Latin American descent, emphasized the dominance of white men in high-ranking positions in the cannabis room.
It has to be “louder” to help women and people with color, she explained, adding:
“It’s important to give back to the community … you really have to focus on social justice and social justice reform.”
Protecting patients and being able to “treat oneself for various medical and health problems and not be imprisoned for them” is vital, according to Macias.
“Can’t set politics between mother and child”
As an advocate for a patient who continues to “fight the war,” Macias also addressed the challenges both adults and children face in accessing medical cannabis products.
As CEO and Chairwoman of Women Grow, Macias has for years helped parents who are refugees and are forced to go to different markets to get medicines for their children.
“You can’t set a policy between a mother and a child,” Macias explained.
The collaboration between Ilera Holistic and HOPE, an brainchild of Erica Daniels, founder of Hope Grows for Autism, recently launched a range of medicinal cannabis tinctures for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Louisiana.
Cannabis breaks down boundaries and differences
Global CEO and Managing Director of Zelira Therapeutics Ltd. (OTCQB: ZLDAF). Dr. Oludare Odumosu is another senior African American in the field who recently decided to partner with HOPE.
He said Zelira remains attractive to investors as it offers both pharmaceutical grade THC products that will be further licensed to partners and a growing portfolio of consumer brands focused on the medicinal benefits of CBD.
The story goes on
“Global markets are starting to really rethink the CBD approval processes,” said 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 accelerate the development of these medicines quickly and then work with licensed credible partners in approved markets who are approved to grow, process and dispense these medicines,” added Odumosu.
The Australian-based medical cannabis company recently consolidated its global leadership position to better position itself for growth in international markets such as the US, UK and Germany.
As part of that plan, Odumosu, who served as the company’s CEO and General Manager for the United States, was promoted to global CEO.
“I stand on the shoulders of the likes of Dr. Chanda Macias” and other cannabis advocates, said Oludare, adding that he was determined “to do what those who went before us did for us, with it we will hopefully make progress “.
Like his other colleagues in the African American industry, he is “disappointed by the numbers and by how many people like me are reflected in the cannabis industry’s opportunity centers.”
Cannabis is “a mad battle”
Wanda James, the first African American woman to own a marijuana dispensary in the country, announced that “Colorado did a really good job not to be where it needs to be with cannabis possession.” Latino owners in the state compared to 1,747 white owners.
Still, “they’re trying to move forward” as social justice “comes to Denver eleven years after legalization,” after years of preventing drug addicts, a nonviolent drug criminal, from becoming part of the industry, said James, CEO and founder of Simply Pure Dispensary .
As a veteran, James was able to experience firsthand all of the struggles that come with wider adoption of CBD as a treatment for certain medical conditions.
While military service members are no longer banned from using CBD products, that doesn’t mean veterans are being encouraged to use them, she said.
However, she indicated that after all, education is the most important thing, revealing that they will “try to send black and brown kids on a full trip to law school”.
“If cannabis could send people to jail, cannabis would have to send people to law school,” said James.
The Benzinga Cannabis Hour is produced every week and brings together top executives, entrepreneurs and experts from all areas of the cannabis industry. Each show features three or more guests from a wide range of cannabis expertise.
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