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When the cannabis industry began taking off a few years ago, people of color were few and far between. And why was that? Were marginalized communities avoiding it because of what they’d already faced? Was access not being granted? Partly. But as information becomes more readily available and the industry continues to grow, people of color, particularly women, are gradually getting involved.

In March 2017, CASSIUS attended Viridian Capital Advisors’ Cannabis Investment Summit, where we sat in on its “Women in Cannabis” panel. There, we connected with Gia Morón—Director of Communications at Women Grow—and Dasheeda Dawson—President of MJM Strategy—who both shared compelling insight into their experience in the cannabis industry.

“This is a great industry for women,” Morón told CASSIUS. “As many of us know, we are the biggest spenders and decision makers—not only in business, but within our households.”

But, as one may guess, it hasn’t been a cakewalk.

“In terms of obstacles, some of us are holding our own selves back,” Morón continued. “I think some of us are curious but don’t quite know what to do. I think some of us are hesitant in jumping in fearing the risk and the stigma behind it. And also, if I were to look at it from [the perspective of] a woman of color, I think we aren’t seeing enough of us in this space.”

Dawson, who studied molecular biology and is a legal medical marijuana patient, says her biggest challenge is navigating that stigma.

“There’s so much we don’t know, and it’s frustrating that you deal with the ignorance of what’s happened over the last 100 years, largely the criminalization of [marijuana] and destroying homes,” she shared. “We’ve got to be honest about what’s happened and what’s happening in this country. What’s happened is that we’ve leveraged the ‘unknown’ or the ‘exotic’ to be able to create hate around a plant. We over time used this plant to lock up millions of largely Black and Hispanic individuals, and now we’re starting to see that ‘oh, we were wrong as a group.’ A lot of people don’t wanna say we were wrong, certain states are saying it louder, but you’re not putting anything in place to offset what has happened over the last 50 to 70 years in terms of the communities that have been destroyed.”

For the launch of CASSIUS’ Sticky Green, we’re sharing a look back at what we learned at the summit. Watch the clip above.

Sticky Green is CASSIUS’ hub for all things weed. Want to spark up an idea? Pitch us.

NEXT: GFive’s Larry Smith Talks Starting the First Black-Owned and Operated Cannabis Lifestyle Brand