The cannabis industry’s popularity has grown exponentially within the past few years; still, about 70% of the industry is run by white American men. In 2017, it was found that 81% of those business owners were white, indicating that the industry hasn’t improved regarding diversity nearly enough — even after almost six years.
As an industry that has almost always disadvantaged BIPOC, it’s time to diversify the cannabis sphere and celebrate representation more than ever. As a consumer, one of the best ways to do this personally is by supporting POC and minority-owned cannabis brands, businesses, and organizations.
RELATED: Top Women-Owned Cannabis Brands Embracing Diversity and Inclusion
To help you get started, we’ve come up with a list of the top ten POC or minority-owned cannabis brands to shop from this year. Each one of these brands not only creates incredible cannabis products, but they’re also singlehandedly diversifying an industry that used to be overwhelmingly exclusive.
Oakland Extracts is a Black-owned cannabis brand that’s dedicated to curating top-shelf extracts for the communities of West California. Terryn Niles Buxton is the founder of the CA extract brand, and he’s been in the industry long before the state actually began legalizing the plant.
While OE is a fantastic brand for various reasons, Buxton’s continual support of other small-owned businesses is truly inspiring. In an interview, he was quoted saying, “We built this company to create change in our community and to impact the lives here. Nothing makes us feel better than to meet someone who tells us that watching us build shows them a path. The biggest accomplishment of Oakland Extracts is community building.”
Noirebud is a “fearlessly” Black and women-owned luxury CBD company that aims to help expand cannabis accessibility to Black and Brown communities. The brand is all about curating high-end products with affordable price tags, so you don’t have to blow your budget just to get the support you need. From CBD chocolates to candles and even hard candy, Noirebud’s selection screams luxury.
Founder Carolyn Gray’s philosophy for her brand is to “…offer quality CBD wellness products to assist all in enhancing what our bodies naturally do to live omnipotent lives. Ethically, lovingly, and botanically.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Wanda James and her husband Scott Durrah became the first Black couple in the US to be legally licensed and own a dispensary, edible company, and cultivation facility. With her background and company success, James has quickly become one of the most successful, influential women in the cannabis industry.
Simply Pure is the product of James and Durrah’s hard work. This dispensary is now Denver’s most premier recreational cannabis shop in the area, being one of the most trusted names in the industry. Simply Pure describes itself as an “unexpected cannabis experience,” but it’s one that’s definitely needed.
The Hollingsworth Cannabis Company
The Hollingsworth Cannabis Company is Washington state’s only Black-owned cannabis farm — and this has been the case for years. THC Co. was started by brother and sister duo Joy and Raft Hollingsworth with the support of their whole family. Through various trials and tribulations, THC Co. survived the beginning of WA legalization, the pandemic, and the barriers that come from being the state’s only Black-owned cannabis farm.
Even after garnering incredible media attention — even being featured on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown — THC Co. continues to be the only POC-owned farm in WA, though this definitely should not be the case. If you’re in Washington state, keep an eye out for The Hollingsworth Cannabis Company and their various marijuana brands at your local dispensary.
The Mellows cannabis brand is unlike anything you’ve ever tried. Women and minority-owned, Mellows is an award-winning edibles brand for so many reasons. Owner Stephanie Hua is a professionally trained chef that decided to focus her confections on low-dose gourmet marshmallows (hence the name).
Hua’s been handcrafting her edibles in San Francisco since 2015, but you can always check out her cannabis cookbook Edibles: Small Bites for the Average Cannabis Kitchen no matter where you live.
Not only is Leune Black and women-owned and operated, but the company’s whole mission is to support Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities in the cannabis sphere. This luxury cannabis company regularly supports and donates to the biggest cannabis organizations like the Last Prisoner Project, the Floret Coalition, and Eaze Momentum.
Founder Nidhi Lucky Handa is a WOC who was always on the search for a cannabis brand that spoke to her — and she just couldn’t find it. So, she decided to make her own brand. Thus, Leune was born from a mission and strong will, and it’s quickly become one of the most influential POC-owned cannabis brands the industry has seen yet.
Kush Queen’s CEO Olivia Alexander used to be a budtender in California in the early days of legalization. Not long after starting her job, she realized that the industry was severely lacking in diversity and representation, particularly for women, POC, and LGBTQ+ communities.
After years of work and dedication, and with the desire to bring high-quality cannabis to communities of all types, Kush Queen was born. Since then, the brand’s become one of the most popular brands in the industry, even offering the world’s number-one selling cannabis bath bombs.
Founded and run by Black and Brown women, Supernova Women is a non-profit cannabis organization that’s all about uplifting Black and Brown voices in the cannabis sphere. The organization’s goal is to empower POC to become “self-sufficient shareholders in the cannabis community” through things like education, advocacy, and network building. Supernova Women even puts out a yearly social equity impact report that’s become a wonderful resource for up-and-coming business owners to have the numbers and data they need surrounding social equity programs.
Through their website, you can learn more about their programs, support the cause, go to an event, and read about Supernova Women in the news.
Timeka Drew is the genius behind the luxury cannabis brand Biko. Drew was granted a Phase 3 Round 1 Social Equity retail license in California with the goal of opening her own brand in the same LA communities that she grew up in. She is an active member of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, focusing most of her life on dismantling racism and fighting for economic and environmental justice — and this is apparent within her Biko brand.
About her company, Drew states, “The brand is also a vehicle for underrepresented excellence to thrive.” Then, she goes on to proudly say, “I feel it is a great honor and a privilege to take up space in this industry as a black woman – I walk in the footsteps of many amazing and resilient black women entrepreneurs before me.”
Viola is former NBA star Al Harrington’s award-winning cannabis brand. The company has over 10 years of experience in the world of cultivation, and the basketball player’s products are available in five different states in the US, as well as all across Canada.
Viola is a special cannabis brand because it dedicates time, energy, and money to those affected by the war on drugs. The brand has a strong focus on community reinvestment, meaning they give back a lot of their money to the communities that need it most. Viola works with local organizations and communities to provide the support and resources they need regarding social equity. With partners like Minorities for Medical Marijuana, Mothering Justice, and National Expungement Works, Viola is wholly dedicated to restorative justice in the cannabis community.
Diversify Your Cannabis Consumption With More Inclusive Brands
The next time you’re about to head out to your local dispensary, we’d highly suggest looking up the menu online to see which brands they have to offer and if any of them are POC or minority owned. Or, better yet, it might be time to check out a new dispensary in your area that’s BIPOC owned. You never know, one of the brands, farms, or cultivators on our list may be available in your favorite dispensary depending on your location.
Regardless, as a member of the cannabis community, it’s time to step up and help improve inclusivity and diversity in this industry. It has a long way to go, but supporting POC-owned businesses and brands like the ones we mentioned above is a great start toward supporting those in your own community.