Entrepreneurs find opportunity and community in what was once illegal.
Bridgett Davis wore a bright flowery dress to welcome friends and acquaintances into her parents’ home in Inglewood, a historically black city in southwestern Los Angeles. A big sign propped by the entrance read “Launch Party for Big Momma’s Legacy,” Davis’ start-up company, which makes cannabis-infused essential oils and salves. The invitation said noon, but things were running late: The so-called edibles like lemon and rose cookies and the ubiquitous brownies didn’t get served until closer to 1 p.m. Neither did the “medicated” hibiscus tea.
The gathering, mostly of women of color, was not simply to find new customers and foster women-owned businesses. It was part of an effort to celebrate a product that until this year was illegal. Not long ago, people here feared arrest for marijuana possession; according to the American Civil Liberties Union, back in 2013, African-Americans were nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites. Today, Los Angeles is considered the largest legal marijuana market in the world, with more dispensaries than the entire state of Colorado. Now, black women like Davis — and many others in the very communities that were most harmed by marijuana prohibition — see an unexpected opportunity.
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