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The normalization of cannabis is ushering in an era of unprecedented economic opportunity. And like Whoopi Goldberg, there are many women of color who aren’t taking a backseat.

According to the Women & Minorities in the Marijuana Industry Report, published by Marijuana Business Daily, over five percent of senior positions in the cannabis industry are held by women of color. Also, the U.S. Census’ Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons reported that companies owned by women of color jumped 67 percent between 2007 and 2012. Although minorities face a slew of barriers that disproportionately affect their entrepreneurial potential, these women are at the helm of the green rush. And they plan to cultivate a lot of cash.

“I believe people should be educated about the plant, especially people of color. There’s just not enough people of color who are engaging in the industry, because they’re not educated on what this plant really does.”

Whitney Beatty

Whitney Beatty is the CEO of Apothecarry, a provider of luxury cannabis storage and accoutrement based in California. A former television executive, Beatty grew up a firm believer in Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign and never envisioned that she would be running an ancillary cannabis company.

It wasn’t until she received an anxiety diagnosis that she began exploring the world of cannabis. Now she seeks to normalize cannabis culture and educate connoisseurs about properly storing their flower to avoid mold growth and a loss of potency.

“No one is talking about how to keep their meth fresh because meth is considered an illicit drug,” Beatty said. “Back in the day when cannabis was considered an illicit drug people weren’t talking about how to keep their plant fresh either. I keep my wine in a wine fridge, I keep liquor in bars, I keep my cigars in a humidor, but I was hiding cannabis in a lovely shoebox under my bed. That’s not right.”

The Apothecarry case features air-tight humidity jars that keep cannabis flower from drying out or molding, dab sticks, grinders and nooks for organizing pipes, papers and vaporizers.

Marvina Thomas

Marvina Thomas is the nervous type, but you would never know it. Owner of 420 Skincare and Start Living Inc. Recovery Home, Thomas is also market leader for the Phoenix chapter of Women Grow, an organization focused on female leadership in the cannabis space.

Thomas, a former nurse, spent years honing her skills while crafting artisan soaps and creams. When a patient developed a fungal infection on her face, Thomas decided to add cannabis oils to her products. When they proved to be a success, she moved to a licensed kitchen to perfect her line and the rest is history.

420 Skincare offers CBD-infused bath bombs, soaps, body butter and creams. All products are handmade using the hot process method and contain natural, organic ingredients. THC-infused options are also available in 20 dispensaries throughout Arizona.

Fifty percent of all profits from 420 Skincare go toward Start Living Inc. Recovery Home, where she helps patients find employment and procure medical cannabis cards to combat alcohol and opioid addiction.

Bonita “Bo” Money

Bonita “Bo” Money is a cannapreneur and founder of Women Abuv Ground, a networking organization designed to position women of color in cannabis companies, and That Glass Jar, a cannabis-infused topical developed to combat the drug-resistant bug MRSA.

A California native, Money spent decades working in the entertainment industry where she often came face-to-face with racial and gender discrimination. After transitioning into cannabis she saw patterns of the same behavior and founded Women Abuv Ground in 2015 to combat industry-wide inequity. She also developed That Glass Jar out of necessity.

When a close friend contracted MRSA and fell gravely ill, the odds looked grim. So Money turned to cannabis as a last resort. After using their makeshift topical for four days, her friend’s MRSA disappeared. “I believe people should be educated about the plant, especially people of color,” Money said. “There’s just not enough people of color who are engaging in the industry, because they’re not educated on what this plant really does. They’re excluding themselves because of this.”

Tanganyika Daniels

Tanganyika Daniels is the founder of Jayn Green, a gender-neutral cannabis-infused skincare line offering beard balms, beard oils and body butters. And cannabis is her lifestyle.

A United States Marine Corps veteran, Daniels spent most of her life thinking negatively about cannabis. After graduating from film school in Washington, D.C., she sold her home to move to California to pursue a career in film. But while in California she landed a job with TKO Edibles and discovered the medical benefits of cannabis—which she said saved her life and led her down a path of wellness and advocacy.

“I got into this by trying to treat my symptoms of PTSD,” Daniels said. “Joining the industry I was able to jump in and find out what worked best for me, and I used that to start my line and help others.”

Despite economic barriers, Daniels hopes to serve women of color as a cannabis consultant and eventually wants to open a cannabis day spa. “There’s a lot that goes into being an entrepreneur in this space,” Daniels said. “Not only the uncertainties, but you have to worry about law enforcement, you have to worry about the stigma from your family, your church members. But I want people to know that there are people in this space that look like them.”

Source: Culture Magazine