Two black female entrepreneurs in Los Angeles recently added their voices to the chorus of the predominantly white legalized cannabis market in California by opening their own pharmacy.
CEO Whitney Beatty and COO Ebony Andersen According to Forbes, Josephine & Billie’s opened on October 29th. The speakeasy-style old school cannabis store is named and themed after legends of the Harlem Renaissance Josephine Baker and Billie vacation, both of which became federal government targets for marijuana use during the prohibition era.
Beatty told Forbes that their goal for Josephine & Billie’s was to create a dispensary that would honor the history of Black America with cannabis. She pointed out that the vast majority of licensed cannabis dispensaries in California and across the country are owned by white Americans, although the war on drugs has resulted in millions of black Americans incarcerated for the illegal sale of marijuana.
According to the New York Times, California legalized recreational marijuana in 2016. According to the US News & World Report, 18 states have passed laws legalizing the use of recreational cannabis.
But in 2017, less than 10% of the cannabis entrepreneurs surveyed by Marijuana Business Daily identified themselves as Black or Latino.
“For years, the war on drugs has disproportionately disenfranchised people of color,” Beatty told Forbes. “And we are not participating in this space on legalization. Blacks and browns own less than one percent of all licensed businesses. Despite the fact that this industry was built on the backs of our people. “
The lack of diversity in the growing legalized cannabis business was in the crosshairs of the mogul-turned rapper Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter for years. Hov’s cannabis business Monogram and its culture and grow ambassador, DeAndre “De” Watson, recently partnered with Josephine & Billie’s ahead of the grand opening.
Watson visited and showcased Monogram’s unique line of marijuana products, which includes flowers, pre-rolls and the company’s signature “OG Handroll”.
Josephine & Billie owners said their speakeasy provided women of color with a welcoming and safe environment to learn about the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
“We should talk more positively about cannabis,” Beatty told Forbes. “Instead of demonizing it, let’s discuss why cannabis works. I want to be able to contribute to the development of a community where we can enjoy all of the health benefits of the plant. “
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