Mary Jane is all about female empowerment so it was an honor to speak with Bonita “Bo” Money, the founder of Women Abuv Ground, a professional networking organization dedicated to educating and empowering minority women in the emerging cannabis industry. She’s a canna-preneur and cannabis activist and expert, leading the charge in talking about the lack of diversity in the cannabis business.
I became interested in cannabis, initially, experimenting with it in my cooking and cuisine. However, a good friend of mine — Dutch actress/model Princess Inge Hazebrook of the Netherlands – became really sick with a breast infected with MRSA, and there was no treatment in sight. My business partner, Michele Bell and I, put our heads together, and created an organic, herbal cannabis-infused cream, called That Glass Jar ™ . In four days, it killed the MRSA and saved my friend’s life. The cream also changed my life. It made me realize just how powerful the cannabis plant truly is. After witnessing the healing powers of cannabis, I knew we could change how the world treats and medicates various ailments and diseases. The cream has been used to treat psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, spider bites, pain, burns, open wounds, bacterial viruses, etc. I have so many testimonials as well as BEFORE and AFTER pictures posted on my Facebook page of how the cream has cured people in a matter of days!
MJHH: What do you think is the current state of diversity in the cannabis industry?
Money: Currently, I feel there’s not much diversity in the cannabis industry. I’ve been talking about the gender and racial gap in the cannabis industry at various conferences around the country. I think diversity is an important topic to address, especially since African Americans and Latinos are poised to miss the “green rush” for financial, educational, and legal reasons.
African American and Latino communities have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, leading to mass incarceration. And because of criminal records, a large percentage of minorities are unable to participate in the business of cannabis because of state laws governing the industry.
Black and Latino men have paid a high price of going to prison for a plant that is now legal – either recreationally or medically or both — in most states, while the White corporate suits are now capitalizing on this billion-dollar industry. For the sake of diversity, I feel we need to level the playing field and encourage inclusiveness in the industry. We must break down the barriers of exclusion.
For this reason, we’re launching Men Abuv Ground (MAG), which is co-founded by NFLer and Super Bowl winner Marvin Washington and cannapreneur James Malbrough. We’re able to provide opportunities and resources to men of under-represented communities in the cannabis industry.
MJHH: What are the major obstacles keeping minority women from entering the industry?
Money: I think the major obstacles keeping women from entering the industry are finances, education and discrimination. In starting any business, you need capital. Expensive start-up and application fees, plus, having the financial resources for a start-up cannabis business can be challenging. Plus, women face racial and gender discrimination in business, along with a fair share of sexism.
Because there are limited networking organizations for people of color, there’s no support for those of us who are entrepreneurial, and want to enter the business world of cannabis. Just like starting any business, you want to attend workshops and talk with other women who can offer some advice and direction. Women with an entrepreneurial spirit want to cultivate important relationships with other successful businesswomen and learn the tricks of the trade.
When I initially began my venture into the cannabis business, I didn’t have much support. I had to do my own research to determine my place and career options in the industry. As a woman of color, I was looking for ways to connect with others like me, but there wasn’t an organization to nurture these types of relationships. I knew I had to change this dynamic. Again, that’s why I founded Women Abuv Ground (WAG), and I’m excited that we’re expanding internationally with a chapter in Amsterdam. I think it’s really important to have mentors who can help navigate our way through this exciting and booming industry.
MJHH: What do you feel the industry needs to look like to become more appealing for women /minority women?
Money: Fortunately, as a whole, women are making great strides in the cannabis business. However, I think the industry needs to be more proactive about its inclusiveness for everyone to have a seat at the table, especially women of color. Investors should look at investing their dollars into the ingenuity and creativity of women-owned, cannabis businesses. Also, cannabis companies should target and recruit more women to be a part of their workforce and create partnerships that’s mutually beneficial. These are a few steps to help level the playing field. Cannabis is a billion-dollar industry; so, there’s enough for everyone to share in the wealth of the “green rush.”
MJHH: What have been some of Women Abuv Ground’s moments of progress in empowerment and education?
Money: As the founder of Women Abuv Ground, I’ve been speaking at national cannabis conferences around the country, bringing a voice to the issue of diversity in the cannabis industry. I’ve been an advocate for the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana, and educating folks about the business side of cannabis.
My team at WAG has been busy with community outreach initiatives and establishing chapters nationwide. I’m very proud of our mentoring program, which connects people in legal states with people in “illegal” states who want to learn more about opportunities in the cannabis business. Just recently, we worked with a group of people who staged a successful legalization rally in Tennessee for a medical marijuana patient. In Colorado, we’ve implemented a Free Hugs Abuv Luv campaign, which promotes unity among cannabis advocates in denouncing violence.Our motto is simply: “How can we help?”
MJHH: Any parting thoughts or things you’d like us to mention?
Money: I encourage everyone to join the green revolution! If you have a desire to be in the cannabis industry, I encourage you to bring your talents and skill set to the cannabis industry. There are so many areas and career opportunities in the industry, and you never have to touch the plant!
Women Abuv Ground is here to help. Visit us at www.womenabuvground.com. And if you want to know more about the magical properties of my cannabis-infused cream, That Glass Jar ™ , visit http://www.thatglassjar.com/
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Bonita “Bo” Money
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