Growing up many of us heard about the awful ways in which weed would ruin your life. It was la planta del diablo. That negative (and mostly false) perception of cannabis (or marijuana, whatever you call it) is becoming less prevalent as more and more individuals embrace the plant for its healing properties in lieu of prescription drugs. As states continue to legalize both the usage and possession of cannabis to approve it for both recreational and medicinal use, the industry continues to legitimize itself (fighting off misinformation) while consumers discover the myriad of uses, especially Latinas in the cannabis industry.
With the industry being legalized in so many states, we are left to wonder where the Latinx community stands, especially with so much misinformation out there. We know brown and Black individuals were, and continue to be, disproportionately criminalized for being consumers of cannabis and as legalization becomes a reality in many states, we are fortunately starting to see less impact on these communities.
As states also attempt to address disproportionate access to wealth building opportunities in the industry for those who were unfairly targeted and convicted of marijuana crimes, we are also seeing some semblance of hope as more people of color entrepreneurs enter the industry. Whether people of color are taking advantage of these new opportunities as entrepreneurs or as professionals in the space, the increase in diversity numbers is a win for everyone.
These five Latinas in the cannabis industry are making strides and we hope that after them, come many more.
Native Californian Priscilla Vilchis saw an opportunity while she was working in a physician’s office seeing patients come in and leave with multiple prescription medications. With the rising opioid epidemic, Vilchis saw the potential cannabis had to fill this gap instead of prescribing highly addicting medications. After becoming the first Latina in the US to gain a license to manufacture and produce cannabis, Vilchis founded Premium Produce, a cannabis production facility in Las Vegas (which Vilchis now operates as CEO). Vilchis has also gone on to found her own marijuana business, Reina.
Growing up in Puerto Rico, Frances González was told a lot of things about marijuana. Mainly, that it was a harmful drug not to be abused. After trying it at 22, González realized the misinformation around cannabis and she went on to start Latina Cannapreneurs to combat the misinformation about the industry. Latina Cannapreneurs is a nonprofit organization that works to educate and empower Latinas about the cannabis industry and works to promote Latina entrepreneurship within the industry.
Facing serious health issues during her pregnancy, Adelia Carrillo saw the positive effects of medical cannabis instead of prescriptions that were making her worse. After a successful career in consumer electronics, Carrillo launched Direct Cannabis Network, a B2B news outlet that works to provide businesses with the newest tech, innovations and entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry. Now Carrillo works as the CMO of Eventhi.io, a platform that works to promote cannabis-related events to all.
Founder and CEO of Vital Tonics, Natalie Bustamante moved to Thailand after graduating college and from there her life completely changed. As she planned her move, she faced the struggle of living without prescriptions for the back injury she had suffered at the age of 13 after her health insurance rejected more than a three months supply. While in Thailand, Bustamante learned of the benefits of CBD and later went on to launch her business, Vital Tonics CBD. Committed to a new form of “nano-emulsified CBD” for her brand, she boasts a product that acts quickly to combat ailments like inflammation and anxiety.
Working as an independent contractor in marketing for dietitians, Marlo Paredes, RDN learned of all of the opportunities in the cannabis industry. As an avid user of cannabis as medicine, the move into this industry was a no brainer. Paredes now works in the marketing space for the cannabis industry and advocates for its usage daily while fighting misinformation about the industry. Paredes is a force to be reckoned with. In her own words: “I will always remain authentic; always support and uplift mis hermanas. I will always represent for mi cultura. And my voice will always be heard, even if I’ve got to yell.”
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