Marijuana Business Magazine - Issue 09, Oct 2017

Macias’ story shows that investing in a scientific and medical education pays off by helping cannabis entrepreneurs build trusting relationships and reputa- tions that keep patients coming back. Moreover, it highlights how a business education and professional experience can lay the groundwork for dodging unexpected bullets. Today, National Holistic – which launched in 2015 – is a thriving dispen- sary that Macias says accounts for more than 25% of Washington DC’s MMJ patients. Additionally, Macias was able to parlay her experience into a sought- after cannabis consultancy, working in new markets such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland, where dispensary license winners have hired her to help get their businesses started. An overachiever, the 43-year-old Macias also: • Founded and leads a group of mothers who are involved in the marijuana business. • Leads the Women Grow chapter for Maryland and Washington DC. • Sits on the advisory board for the medical marijuana program at Southern University in Louisiana. The extracurricular activities consume valuable time, but they have allowed 58 • Marijuana Business Magazine • October 2017 BEING AN AFRICAN-AMERICANWOMAN IN CANNABIS C handa Macias has had to confront numerous chal- lenges in her three-year marijuana career. One of them stems from her gender and race: Macias has often felt alone, given that she’s one of a limited number of African-American female business owners in a male-dominated industry. “As an African-American woman, I have unique chal- lenges that I face day to day in my community … that leave me in an isolated place,” said Macias, the owner of National Holistic Healing Center, one of Washington DC’s five medical marijuana dispensaries. Macias’ answer was to network, seeking out other women and African-Americans in the cannabis indus- try with whom she could commiserate – and even do business. In 2015, she started The Canna Moms Profes- sional Group, which caters to mothers who own marijuana businesses or work in the Washington DC and Maryland cannabis industries. She also became head of her local Women’s Grow chapter and started serving as a paid consultant for entrepreneurs launching their own mari- juana businesses. “Consulting with these different groups has helped me set up my own support network,” she said. “I’m consult- ing, and helping build an industry around other cannabis businesses that respect – and have actually hired – an African-American woman” – as Macias herself has done. Macias noted she tries to support women- and minor- ity-owned businesses. But she’s had to seek out such businesses, because white males own the vast majority of marijuana firms. “I have to go find them because everything else is done by white America. It’s just the way society is. And if someone goes to a dispensary, by default it’s going to be a white dispensary,” Macias said. “If I’m going to sup- port a black person in this industry, I’m going to have to find that person. It’s highly unlikely that I’m going to just bump into them,” Macias said. She’ll also tap her network of peers for assistance. For example, when Macias needs help filling job openings at her business or those of her consulting clients, she calls on another minority woman business owner, Shaleen Title, CEO of THC Staffing in Boston. And when she needed help expanding her patient pool, she sought out another African-American businesswoman, Shawnta Hopkins- Greene, the owner of MyCannX in Columbia, Maryland. While the networks have proved invaluable, they too have their limitations. “I get support from groups like Women Grow. But even in that realm, it doesn’t address necessarily the issues that a black woman would encounter,” Macias said. Will these gender and racial disparities ever change? Macias responded with her own question and answer. “When will it change in mainstream America?” she asked. “I’m not a pessimist. I believe it’s a question of when. Will I see it in my lifetime? I don’t know. I doubt it, but I don’t know.” by Omar Sacirbey