It is Hispanic Heritage Month or many say Latino Heritage Month, a month-long dedication to US Latino culture. A time to celebrate our community, appreciate our incredible history and contributions with pride, to the great nation of the United States. LHM plays a role in creating awareness of our community to those who don’t identify as Latino/x/a or know of the Latino diaspora. In particular the social issues and disparities that impact the US Latino community. One of those social issues and disparities has been lack of equity and ownership in the cannabis industry. Particularly among the fastest growing group of women entrepreneurs in the United States, Latinas. And more so, ownership with Latinas. In fact, it’s time to recognize the Latinas in the cannabis industry who have been fighting for equity, as a national day, National Latinas in Cannabis Day, an effort driven by Latina cannabis entrepreneur and leader, Susie Plascencia.
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According to Leafly article, ‘women hold fewer than a quarter of Los Angeles cannabis licenses’. That percentage is even lower for Latinx/Women of Color. However, there is progress and leadership coming from Latinas/Women of Color rising in a space dominated by white males. Many of these women urge the rest of us to fearlessly use our voices to preserve our cultures and position in the male-dominated cannabis industry.
Why first-of-its-kind podcasts hosted by Latinas and other women of color, that discuss cannabis and culture matter. One podcast to check out, Marijuanera, a Locatora production, where comedy and cannabis meet, hosted by Mala Muñoz.
Women of color are leading the representation of people of color in the cannabis industry, whether it is as consultants, healers, creators and/or entrepreneurs, they are making sure that the Black and Brown communities are being represented in the industry and especially in courtrooms fighting against unjust minor marijuana-related charges – decriminalization. You can read more about the Latinx and women of color in the cannabis industry who are trailblazing and making themselves heard here and here.
While these women are building empires and leadership in the cannabis space by building policies and pathways to equity ownership into the cannabis industry, there still exist barriers for women in general, but .
One of the more important for Latinx/Black women entrepreneurs is funding to build their cannabis businesses. In a space of venture capitalists and white men, the cannabis industry has been infused in recent years by venture capital, a form of private equity financing that is provided by venture capital firms or funds to startups, early-stage, and emerging companies that have been deemed to have high growth potential or which have demonstrated high growth. We typically have seen venture capital play out in the technology industry, but now seeing investors diversify and become influenced by the ‘bros’ of tech.
What really moves the needle on diversity in the cannabis space and capitalizing more women-led cannabis businesses? The forming of associations and councils to assist Latino entrepreneurs in cannabis. In addition, when we step up to the plate to drive change and bring allies with us. As done by a Latina in the cannabis industry who recently won over a Silicon Valley veteran to seed a $50 million women-led venture capital fund aimed at BIPOC. The People’s Group Fund co-led by cannabis industry leaders, Christine De La Rosa and Chareen Caabay centers, engages and invests and accelerates BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and women-led cannabis/ancillary businesses to bring into balance the abundance of the cannabis plant with the people.
Women cannabis entrepreneurs and/or Latinas in the cannabis industry need capital to grow and scale their businesses, in addition to being in a highly regulated space – all cannabis entrepreneurs need a village of supporters, community and advisors to help navigate regulatory changes. Our previous interview with Claudia L. Mercado, CEO/Founder of Calibueno, a licensed Oakland-based cannabis brand and delivery service of cannabis products had this to say when asked what was her biggest challenge she had to overcome with her venture:
“Figuring out all of the regulatory compliance at a local and state level and having to constantly pivot and strategize as the industry continued to evolve.”
Claudia’s efforts to drive her business and her leadership in the cannabis space have led her to be accepted as part of Cohort 8 of the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI) to help her grow her network and scale Calibueno through fundraising.
Latino Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the milestones our community has made in industries that have shut us out. So today, with National Latinas in Cannabis Day – – let’s give our support to the luchadoras in cannabis that are leveling the playing field for all of us.