Risk takers often win.
Many women entrepreneurs are winning big as they start businesses in the cannabis sector, including Malibu’s 99 High Tide Collective.
Owner Yvonne “99” DeLaRosa Green is a savvy business woman, a class act and a sincere advocate of dispensaries providing medical marijuana to those in need. She is considered a pioneer in the cannabis industry because High Tide Collective is — well, hip, cool, comforting and, to many, very healing.
“I am from a long line of curanderas, natural healers, in my ancestral Colombian tradition from one side of my family,” DeLaRosa said. “As a kid I never went to the doctor – my grandmother used natural things to heal. We never had a Band-Aid, an aspirin or anything. I believe that marijuana is good medicine under the right circumstances. It helps senior citizens with needed relief and they often can wean themselves from all the chemicals in traditional medicine. It works topically for arthritis relief and relieving skin cancer. I preach the spirituality of the plant.”
Sam Huntington Boyer, DeLaRosa’s husband, is a master grower.
“By coincidence, he is descended from the Samuel Huntingon who signed the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper,” DeLaRosa said.
She notes that she started in the dispensary business because her mother was suffering from cancer.
“Mother refused all traditional cancer treatments and wanted only natural solutions such as cannabis. But that was 10 years ago, and there was no comfortable place to go, to let alone take your mother to; dispensaries were seedy. Mother recovered thankfully and she’s healthy.
“When that happened, I asked myself why there wasn’t a place that was acceptable. So, I started a high-end dispensary and visionary art gallery in Venice Beach and later moved the business to Malibu,” DeLaRosa said. “We also have a boutique and offer jewelry by local artists, essential oils and crystals among other things.”
The dispensary also gives back to Malibu by sponsoring beach cleansups, with a recent one occurring on Aug. 7.
DeLaRosa and many others are seizing the opportunities the medical cannabis sector offers. Some do it for profit; others pursue the business in the nonprofit space.
Tracy Ryan, founder and CEO of CannaKids, an organization aimed at helping those who suffer from cancer improve their quality of life, said “We have approached politicians in Malibu asking them to consider enacting proper laws for the licensing of our organization so it could manufacture and process the necessary oils from the cannabis plant that are needed for clinical trials we are pursuing with [Los Angeles] hospitals. If the clinical trials are initiated, that would literally be global news because it could change the way we deal with cancer.”
No matter what happens on Nov. 8 with regard to Proposition 64, which aims to legalize marijuana and hemp under state law, business development opportunities in the cannabis industry will continue to be explosive for women.
“We use crops that are female and are clones from one plant, the Mother,” DeLaRosa said.
Women Grow L.A., the cannabis industry’s largest professional networking organization for women, co-produced “The Golden State of Cannabis” on Saturday, Aug. 20, in collaboration with the Cannabis Education Forum.
Jackie Subeck, Vice Chair of Women Grow Los Angeles, ran a very well-attended breakout session concerning how to start and run a cannabis business. The session focused in part on branding a product before you start a business and factoring in the possibility that after this November’s election, products may be marketed for recreational use.
As DeLaRosa and Ryan have found out, there are unique challenges to starting a canna business.
Leah Kabli, a trained real estate attorney and California’s first marijuana real estate broker, has co-founded High California Realty, a 420 brokerage firm that is helping CannaKids find a proper space to conduct business, possibly in Malibu. High California Realty specializes in the sale, acquisition and rental of medical marijuana approved properties. In addition to her legal and real estate expertise, Kabli is a certified cannabis professional.
“I found my ideal space. It’s a beautiful community of people. I am now getting involved with Women Grow by speaking about real estate issues faced by many professionals in the industry. As Jackie Subeck and Tracy Ryan from CannaKids said, ‘Real estate is a hot topic and my expertise is very much needed in this space,’” she said.
The areas that Women Grow touches upon relates to upward trends: cannabis, women, small business owners and local jobs.
“When you focus on upward trends, your business has the potential for exponential growth,” Subeck said.
Krystal Kitahara, of Yummi Karma, was a panelist on the forum addressing how to start and run a legal cannabis business. She saw a gap in the cannabis marketplace for products that appealed to women.
“I wanted to give women, like me, more options when it came to edibles, tinctures and topicals,” she said. “This is the first multibillion dollar industry that is not dominated by men, and I’m so proud to be a part of this movement. Women are making history right now in the cannabis industry and it is only because we’re all in it together.”
If Proposition 64 passes, the potential to develop new cannabis businesses and to grow more will surge for women entrepreneurs in Malibu and beyond.
“From a business perspective, the momentum in our industry is palpable, and the sky is the limit,” Kitahara said. “From a medical perspective, it’s only the beginning for cannabis research, and we need so much more. In both sectors, we can’t wait to see what the next chapter brings.”
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