WEED, WOC & WINNING
it's been exactly a year since I "came out" and uploaded a video to my YouTube beauty channel letting the internet know what most who know me already knew:
I love to smoke weed.
Ask any of my friends back in NYC and they'll tell you, "Tori is always high"... and while that's not always the case, the truth is that since I left my momma's house at 18 I have been a regular user of weed. I don't drink alcohol - so if you saw me out, you could probably catch me with a blunt in hand and shades on (yes, even at night). I mainly kept my usage on the low because I wanted to avoid the unfair stigma that others put on WOC that smoke. That changed when I decided to move to LA in late 2016.
I moved to LA for a job that lasted about 6 weeks, and when I decided to stay, I knew that I would need to figure out where I wanted my career to go— no turning back. I joined a women's only workshop where I dove into my brand (and soul) for an intense couple of months and realized that in order to build the career I want I'd have to find my "niche" and focus entirely on that. I had been creating beauty content for a while, but after sharing my zeal for Cannabis with my peers, I knew that incorporating weed into my brand and content would set me apart.
With this newfound excitement for Cannabis culture, I began getting out and networking. After weeks of hitting smoked filled events, meeting brand owners and connecting with the women in the cannabis business, I was left wondering, "where are the women that look like me?". While I enjoyed the feminist/fuck the stigma aspect of the culture, I didn't see the representation for WOC, specifically Black women, in the community. We happen to be the most stigmatized group of them all— if that wasn't obvious. That made me want to not only provide the representation I did not see but also find the WOC who are pushing Cannabis culture.
A few months in and I had pretty much connected with all 10 (not joking) of the WOC really making a name for themselves in the Cannabis scene of LA. Not surprisingly, we bonded over the feeling of being a minority in the business of Cannabis, being a WOC of Cannabis and where we see the industry going for us as a community. Nothing against our White counterparts, but I refuse for us to be left out of this conversation and business.
While the legal weed industry is less than a year old in Cali, it is fast-growing and there is money to be made. WOC can't afford to miss out and due to our communities' history with the plant, most of us don't have access to the positive outcomes that come from the Cannabis business. That's changing with people like Mary Pryor of Cannaclusive and Joy Clarke of Mahogany Mary, who educate and throw events for P(W)OC in the industry both in LA and in NY. Then you have the influencers like myself and DeJanae Evins of Green Goddess Glow, who are providing representation by creating content focused on Cannabis beauty, health & wellness.
You don't even have to be in Cali to get into the product side of the business: Puerto Rican entrepreneur, Kristina Aducci, sells modern smoking accessories from NY-based "House of Puff".
My year-long foray into the Cannabis industry has been eye-opening in many ways. Being a little girl from the projects in Harlem and the daughter of a former drug dealer, I find it funny that I am here and so open with my Cannabis usage. The industry is only getting better and as more states Legalize (NY, I see you) there will be opportunities for WOC to join the industry in so many ways. I just hope we don't shy away from the opportunity, and allow our community to capitalize on an industry we've low key been a part of all a long.
To all my weed lovers, HAPPY 4/20!
Hit me up if you want to talk and learn more, I'm here for it!