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Meet 5 African American Trailblazers in the Marijuana Industry

By now you have heard over and over again, how the cannabis industry is growing at a rapid rate.  Whether it is adopting medical or recreational use laws, states are weighing the benefits of some form of marijuana legalization.  Often, state laws and barriers to entry make it challenging for women and people of color to join the “Green Rush.” Check out five African-Americans who are leaders in the industry.

Snoop Dogg

Not only is Snoop Dogg a rap legend, but he also been a prominent fixture in the marijuana culture for decades.  In fact, he made his debut on Dr. Dre’s first solo album, The Chronic, which happens to share a name with a popular marijuana strain. Snoop has turned his passion for pot into businesses in the cannabis industry. According to Black Enterprise, in 2017 “Snoop Dogg and media entrepreneur Ted Chung launched Merry Jane, a resource for cannabis enthusiasts covering everything from cannabis news, food, and style. Snoop also has a range of cannabis strains called Leafs by Snoop, as well as a line of cannabis goodies including chocolates and candies.”  He is also the founder of Casa Verde Capital, a “venture fund” which raised $45 million since forming in 2015. 

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Hope Wiseman

Hope Wiseman is a trailblazer in the cannabis community at the age of 25.  As one of the founders of Mary & Main, Hope is “the youngest dispensary owner in the US” according to Black Enterprise. Hope started the business with her mother, Dr. Octavia Simkins-Wiseman.  The Black Enterprise piece explained that Hope “and her mother didn’t know too much about the industry but, what she did know was, there was a real market opportunity. The two brought on additional co-founders to help tackle the feat.”  Hope has evolved into an industry insider and was even a featured speaker at the 2018 Women Grow Summit this past February.   

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg is entertainment royalty.  She holds the distinction of having EGOT status by winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award. In addition to her impressive acting portfolio, she is a co-host of the daytime talk show The View.  Whoopi’s other passion lies in cannabis.  In 2016 she announced that she would be joining forces with Maya Elisabeth to form Whoopi & Maya.  Whoopi & Maya provides cannabis products for women which are “designed to provide relief from menstrual cramps” as reported by Vanity Fair.  When discussing the line in 2016 Whoopi told Vanity Fair “For me, I feel like if you don’t want to get high, this is a product specifically just to get rid of discomfort,” she says. “Smoking a joint is fine, but most people can’t smoke a joint and go to work.”

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Andrea Drummer

Andrea Drummer has taken an interesting route into the cannabis industry.  Oddly enough, she admitted, in an interview with The Californian that “she started her career working for nonprofits and telling at-risk youth to ‘just say no’” In the same interview, she also explained that “I just thought that all people that smoked were shiftless and ended up on a couch not living their best life.” Her view on cannabis began to shift, and she decided to pursue cannabis cooking, “[a]fter she and a friend enjoyed her first batch of infused bruschetta, which left them grinning from ear to ear” according to The Californian.  In 2012, she launched Elevated VIP Dinner which caterers “cannabis dinners.” Drummer has worked with celebrities including “Chelsea Handler, who hired Drummer to cook for an episode of her four-part Netflix series called ‘Chelsea Does… Drugs.’.”  In addition to her catering business, Drummer wrote Cannabis Cuisine: Bud Pairings of a Born Again Chef.  As Leafly puts it this book “explains the nuances of flavor profiles in specific strains and ways to pair them with food.”

John Salley

Anyone who loves late 1980’s and early 1990’s basketball is familiar with John Salley.  He won win two NBA championships with the Bad Boys of Motown, the Detroit Pistons, and later with the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers.  In retirement, Sally has made a name for himself as a “vegan and advocate of healthy living” according to High Times. He can also add cannabis advocate to his healthy lifestyle resume.  Salley is using cannabis to deal with the pains from his ball playing days.  In an interview with High Times, Salley stated: “Cannabis fits into my healthy lifestyle because it allows me to medicate without damaging my liver, my kidneys or my spleen.”  Part of that healthy lifestyle includes ensuring that the cannabis clean and free of toxins which is why he has partnered with GreenSpace Labs cannabis testing company.  According to an announcement made in February, Green Space Labs is a “biotechnology company committed to providing testing services, laboratory supplies, genomic profiling and electronic medical record compliance software for cannabis patients and growers.”


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