HUFFPOST PERSONAL
01/19/2018 09:21 am ET

The Youngest Black Dispensary Owner In The U.S. Wants To Help You Understand Weed

Snoop Dogg’s affinity for marijuana is something you are probably already aware of. What you might not be aware of, though, is how he is able to function at ― for lack of a better word ― high capacity.

Like many of the misconceptions surrounding marijuana use, a broader education of how the plant works could help to explain. 

“Snoop can smoke so much more than the average person,” said Hope Wiseman, a 25-year-old former investment banker. “There’s a reason marijuana works for him and he can function at such a high level with that level of use. I want to be able to really explain that to people, so they can figure out how their usage and dosage can work best for them.” 

Wiseman said she will become the youngest black dispensary owner in the country once her medical cannabis dispensary, Mary & Main, opens in Maryland next month. 

Over the past three years, Wiseman has worked alongside her mother and a family friend, both dentists by trade, to build up her business. She said she has faced confusion and skepticism from friends and family who have negative connotations about marijuana.

“I understand that stoner stigma may come off very negatively,” she said. “But then you hear the stories. Stories about children who had multiple seizures a day, which completely stopped because they’re taking CBD oil, or Cannabidiol, a compound found in marijuana which has absolutely zero psychoactive effect. Stories about people who have glaucoma who use it to alleviate their symptoms. Stories about people who have cancer, who have a better quality of life when they’re going through chemotherapy.”

“We need to cultivate more research and development on the drug,” she added. “That is when people will start to look at it differently.”

Hope Wiseman
Hope Wiseman is the youngest black female who owns a marijuana dispensary in the United States.

That stigma, Wiseman said, isn’t applied equally.

Plenty of rich, mostly white men and women have been celebrated for using the plant and applying their business savvy to the burgeoning industry as cannabis has become legal to some degree in 29 states.

Meanwhile, thousands of people of color remain incarcerated for marijuana offenses as communities of color continue to bear the disproportionate impact of the failed war on drugs. Even though black people do not use cannabis at a higher rate than white people, they are about four times as likely to get arrested for possession, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.  

Recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in Maryland, but possession under 10 grams became a civil, rather than a criminal, offense in 2014. Legislation was passed that same year that allows doctors to recommend medicinal use to patients. Dozens of dispensaries have since been approved to open in the state. 

Hope Wiseman
Wiseman with her mother, who is also her business partner. 

Wiseman plans to offer free classes about marijuana, which she said she hopes can alleviate the stigma associated with the plant. She plans to focus on communities where punishment for consuming cannabis could be devastating. Challenging the stigma, she said, may encourage minorities to break into the industry. 

“We also want to explain the history behind the plant so you can understand why it became a scheduled drug, why African-Americans have been prosecuted at higher rates than other races and minorities and how that affects us today,” she said. 

She is also interested in hosting an educational series with medical and legal professionals.

“We know a lot of physicians through our network that would want to learn more and would feel more comfortable recommending the plant to patients if they really understood it,” she said. “For law enforcement, we want to get lawyers and police into the classes who want to learn more about how our business affects theirs, and how we can work together.”

Wiseman maintains she is thrilled to be in her position at this moment in history, but said that starting out in the marijuana industry also has its pitfalls. 

“It’s a little lonely,” she said. “Mainly because not many people are going to understand the depth of the business side of what you’re going through.”

Still, Wiseman and her team have built up a solid community through networking with other dispensaries in Maryland. 

Wiseman might look familiar because she is also a star of “WAGS Atlanta,” a reality show produced by E! that follows the lives of athletes’ wives and girlfriends. Wiseman splits her time between Atlanta and Maryland. 

We’ll be sure to keep watching Wiseman and the industry grow. Head to Mary & Main’s website to learn more. 

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