As Blacks are trying to pave a way for themselves in the medical cannabis industry, women of color are standing out as significant players in the budding business.

“The industry is inundated with White men who profit from the very business that turned Black men into police targets for decades,” Tattiana Aqeel, a manager at District Growers, a Black owned grow and medical marijuana dispensary, told the AFRO.

“It’s also the war on drugs, as we know, was not about drugs as much as it was about controlling people of color, which has been the internal U.S. war since its establishment by Europeans on foreign land, this land, which belongs to Indigenous people,” said Tattiana Aqeel, a manager at District Growers, a Black owned marijuana dispensary in Northeast D.C.

At 29, Aqeel has worked in the cannabis industry in various capacities in both California and Washington D.C. She said she has found the strength and freedom that comes with working in cannabis.

“I want to see more of us in plant medicine as much as I want us to be free,” Ageel told the AFRO. “We have power here, and it is in our innate connection to healing and providing for people to be healed. Growing and cultivating cannabis is more than profit for us.   It’s a lifestyle, it’s a justice, it’s peace.”

Kriyyah Abdul, who lives in Southeast D.C., is the owner of We Build U Grow, which assists with indoor and outdoor gardening needs and provides Cannabis themed events, such as “Puff and Paint” parties, said she entered the industry after noticing the deficit of Black women in the industry.

“That’s partially one of the reasons I wanted to start this company, not only because I was a woman, but, of course, African American women, they just aren’t out in this industry like the way that they should be,” Abdul said. Abdul operates her business from her home.

Since her spring 2017 opening, Abdul said she found success in helping people start growing marijuana and other plants.  She said she noticed, despite their lack of representation, her female clientele tend to be most successful.

“A lot of women know how to grow, and they’re actually really good at it.  Females are a lot more detail oriented than males so it kind of helps them grow more.  I know my customers that grow the best weed are actually women because they listen and they want to read and do other things,”  Abdul said.

The 28 year-old gardener and entrepreneur was able to increase her business to making edibles and drinks infused with cannabis by “using every piece of the plant,” she said.  Taking Abdul’s lead, many of the women who have come to We Build U Grow, have found ways to expand beyond simply growing marijuana.

“And then they’re super clever.  They can find different ways to play with marijuana.  It’s a lot of ladies here that have a lot of edible companies and everything,” Abdul told the AFRO. “For me, Black people have to go harder in anything they do.  Period.  And because you’re Black and a woman, it just adds an extra element to it.  They’re going to go harder than anybody else, so that’s why Black women in this industry do such an amazing job.