Q&A Session with the National Hispanic Cannabis Council
Question 1: When did you first start in the Legal Cannabis Industry and why?
I came into the legal cannabis industry when I was 21, I am turning 30 this december. I was a recovering pharmaceutical addict, I had a fellow colleague in college who convinced me to get clean, start working for her friends, and do yoga every day. She changed my life, happiness forever. When I was diagnosed with chronic endometriosis, PCOS, and type 2 diabetes I found myself contemplating on what is the best route to being healthy. I was completely against the idea of taking any kind of medication, but found peace within utilizing cannabis. Before I started the Ranchera Familia Farm I was a consultant for companies like Mr. Moxey Mints and many upcoming CBD edible brands. Seeing and working with these companies at the heyday of hemp, really pushed me to create a smokeable flower that was to medical standards, versus the bulk low quality industrial mass acreage hemp fields we see. I wanted to incorporate all the things I gained from my degree in Public Health, to my deep insight of the cannabis industry and break the barriers open of what a cannabis farmer looks, talks, and acts like. Just like humans, we farmers come in many shapes, sizes, colors and forms -> I want young Latinos to look at me and say hey that could be me, wait, correction that WILL be me one day.
Question 2: What kind of advice would you give to people looking to get into the industry?
Figure out what things you like, whether it’s plant touching, formulating recipes, advocacy, etc., figure out role models or companies who exhibit the qualities and strengths you are looking for. Biggest piece of advice is do not ever think you’re too good for any job especially cleaning or packaging, as a business owner you will have to wear many hats and great businesses look for people who are ready to tackle any challenge at hand. Use resources like @cannaclusive , @cannabisworkerscoalition , and @nhccouncil to look for jobs, know your rights as worker and field workers, and do not be afraid to reach out for assistance. Finding mentors is super important, I have many for various things, mentors can be anything you wish to bring into your life. For instance on a business level; Susie Palencia of Mota Glass and Get Humo has been a vital aspect for my marketing growth providing me with networking opportunities, marketing consultations, etc. On a farm level; Robin Cordell owner of Oregon Girl Gardens was my favorite one on one mentor when I apprenticed at her farm back in 2017, sharing in depth knowledge, hands on training, and helped me build my skill set so that one day I could start Ranchera Familia.
Question 3: How do you feel about the current application fees for licensing?
I am on the hemp side of things, so in regards to hemp licensing fees; they aren’t terribly expensive, but it is more than just a fee. It is things like finding land, land that not only has accessible and useable water, land that is free of toxins and metals, land that is zoned for agriculture use and a community that is supportive…the last thing you want to do is buy land and figure out that you do not have any of these things.
Question 4: How do you think cannabis has been received by the Hispanic community?
We all know that within the Hispanic Community we have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs tying into heavy immigration reform in the 1920’s. Especially when you tie in the religious aspect of Catholicism. When past marketing frames the idea that drug users are Black and Brown and the target from police heavily focused on those ideas, it was your abuelas worst fear to have you consume cannabis. Specifically when we look into the repercussions faced by Hispanics and those that are immigrants or those that are working towards their green card, this was another way to strip Hispanics of their status and revoke their green cards or chances of successfully applying for one. Hispanics and Hispanic Immigrants are not just facing drug charges and time, they are facing deportation.
Question 5: How would you say discrimination manifests itself in the industry?
From my side in the agriculture field, the idea of being a farmer or field worker is what our family and ancestors worked so hard on to get us out of those jobs, but little talk about becoming owners of the farm. According to the 2017 Agriculture Census “In 2017, the United States had 112,451 producers who identified as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin, accounting for 3.3 percent of the country’s 3.4 million producers.” While in states like California Hispanic farm workers account for over 92% of the agriculture workforce and according to statistics in the US, Latinos account for 51% of farm workers. So if we are half of all workers, our ownership needs to reflect that. We need to encourage more leadership positions and ownership opportunities to Latino farm workers, rather than create jobs that have no upward trajectories with better pay, healthy working conditions and land investment opportunities.
Question 6: What is some advice you would give to young Hispanic entrepreneurs?
Take your time, set a game plan, build your dream board, mold your support system and go after everything they said you could not have and more. The world is your oyster.
Question 7: What is your vision of what this industry could potentially become?
Focus more on the farmers and farm workers, all day long not just for Cannabis, for the whole agriculture industry. Without support from media, brand collaborations and just being put on by the industry we will cease to exist as the majority of us can’t physically or financially compete with big pharma. When the farmers are no more, small businesses lose their small business appeal while being forced to consume and buy everything from places like Amazon and other mass markets that take advantage of their employees, customers and land.