The Struggles of Starting a Cannabis Business as a Black Woman
Starting a business in cannabis as a black woman, I get impatient and start trying to expedite the process. I am not sure where my feelings of anxiety and then depression, that continuously reappear stem. Maybe it is the lack of capital, which creates this feeling of scarcity in me causing more and more anxiety about my future. Watching my white and non-black people of color excelling and quickly receive funding from various source for various reasons, causes me to get impatient and start trying to expedite the process. That impatience can lead to careless mistakes that could cause me either to exhaust myself and burnout till the point I give up on this venture or make me work harder to look internally. So now in my initial stages, I am looking at what thoughts I need to let go of to move forward and become the ganjapreneur I know deep down I can be.
Social media is making it easier for people to brand and start businesses, but it also can tax you mentally. I follow many accounts related to travel and cannabis. Following these accounts can be detrimental to the process of building not only your business but yourself up. Because a lot of them make it look easy, but I have to say the White ones make it look the easiest. From funding to building your audience to capitalize, these influencers can make it seem like it’s all a matter of having the ability to take the right photo. Having also read books and listened to many podcasts on the topic of funding, the common theme on all these outlets is that when it comes to white people, there are many avenues to take to get into the business or fund their business in cannabis and all across the board.
Another reason social media is detrimental to Black people in cannabis, funding, and equality is that many of the outlets have blocked cannabis and marijuana hash tagging and searches. Placing these limits people of color trying to market their brand and businesses adds another hurdle White cannabis business owners and the like do not have to jump. That does not even account for those speaking out on racial injustices inside and outside the cannabis community.
Recently, USA TODAY did a report on Facebook suspending the accounts of Black people, who posted anti-racist sentiments, while their white counterparts did not suffer the same fate. Imagine the strain of advocating against the War on Drugs that has disproportionately attacked POCs, and then getting the same discrimination. Platforms like Facebook should honor freedom of speech especially those geared towards social injustices. Social media forums are not the only ones guilty of this.
Redlining and loan discrimination has long been part of the global banking system, whether it was to keep “developing” countries from actually being able to fund their development through massive loans with ridiculous interest or if it was just a black family looking for a home loan in the USA. Though social media and several documentaries have brought this to the attention of the masses, it still does not change the process. Banks are already in a restrictive area with cannabis, and many see taking a risk like the on a POC as not worth it. While these same banks may be more open and willing to fund White startups, bank loans are not the only advantage that White business owners have.
White business owners and job seekers also have the advantage when it comes to funding and finding; it is indoctrination, generational and community wealth. Many of those that make attempts to start a business find financing from family members, friends, and even neighbors. Same when they are on the job market in many industries, they can get a favor called in and have a job. Unfortunately, this is not as common in the POC communities as many do not have generational or community wealth to fall on. Also, face discrimination when seeking employment that cannot be overridden with nepotism because there are not many POC in the hiring position at these companies.
The cannabis industry is one of the worse, as Black and Brown people are three times more likely to be arrested for possession, consumption, and distribution of cannabis as their white peers, who possess, consume and distribute at the same or a little bit higher rate. Once arrested, that can stop you from being able to pursue higher education, to get loans for financing, and to obtain a job inside or outside the legal marijuana industry.
Lately, this lack of funding has put my mindset into scarcity mode, and it causes the pendulum to swing from depression, regretting past decisions and purchases that should have been savings, to anxiety, that I will never get enough funding and will have to work for “the man” to get by. In this phase, it is easiest to give up because there is not much investment to get attached. It merely an idea of what I dream of life being that I can cast away because it seems so distant, which can either lead to withdrawal even further or burning out. Burning out is feeling that I have to research and stay productive to appeal to investors not only for funding but support. Maybe if I post more and do enough collaborations, and webinars/workshops on starting a business, I will find the magic formula that will propel my business to success, when that does not happen that leave one burnout from trying to be over productive and not getting the instant gratification when it does meet expectations. Burning out is where many business ideas go to die, unfortunately, but a few survive.
Where does that put me as a budding ganjapreneur looking at a global market right now? I am currently building a routine and working on my mental health as well as speaking to other WOC, who have not only opened a business but opened one abroad, for consultations. I have talked to members of Estrohaze and Las Morenasd’Espana about how they got to where they are and how I can get to where I would like to be and keep growing. I have learned that; monetizing is something that will come as I build my rapport and that will also bring funding. Proper funding can take years to reach finally and is a little disheartening process, but I am focusing on looking at things abundantly. I also have taken into consideration my use of social media for marketing
Social media is a great tool when used mindfully and with intention. Instagram, for instance, can help you reach global markets but also provides insight on where to get an audience. BUT this requires being intentional with what you are posting as that what draws people in. It also about building the right connections. If you get lost in the wormhole and start following and or reaching out for collaborations without familiarizing yourself with a brand, it can become overwhelming and discouraging now hearing back.
Starting a business is hard and requires a lot of vulnerability especially as a person of color. We face difficulties with funding and gaining legal experience and connections. POC also face the stigmatization and marginalization that can lead to burning out trying to keep up with White peers, who have relatively higher levels of capital and connections in all industries but even more so in cannabis. This reasoning is why many POC owned business especially Black ones do not make it off the ground.
To combat this, I have taken steps to look at my mental health and started building a routine along with affirming my abundance and lessening my scarcity thinking. Through these practices, I have found the guidance and vulnerability to connect with other WOC, who was in a similar position as me. Also, openness and strength to ask for help in simple ways like people sharing my post. These practices have helped with developing my next steps of canna-journey to business ownership.
Want to follow my ups and downs as budding cannapreneurand traveler? Well follow my: