The weed industry needs people like Mary Pryor. People that will keep it real about how twisted, corrupt, and out of balance the game has always been. Without complete truth about the lack of funding, the difficulties of licensing, and the constant fight for social justice, there will never be any real progress made towards correcting all of the issues brought on by the failed War on Drugs.
“I don’t think I’m the shit; I don’t think I’m killing it; but I do think that I talk about how there’s not a lot of Black and brown presence in [the cannabis industry], in a way that’s alarming, hopefully inspiring,” Pryor told me during a recent Zoom interview.
Pryor is the co-founder of Cannaclusive, a collective aimed at facilitating fair representation of minority cannabis consumers. She’s also a co-founder of Fit For Us, a non-profit aimed at highlighting minority professionals in the health and wellness industry space, Breaking Bread NYC, a non-profit focused on food scarcity, Cannabis For Black Lives, a non-profit coalition of white-owned companies aimed at putting dollars behind Black and brown employment and organizations in the cannabis space; and The National Cannabis Industry Association. Additionally, she works as the Chief Marketing Officer for Tonic CBD, a CBD skin care line. By the time this article is published, she’ll probably have two or three more jobs added to the resume, that’s how dedicated she is to creating paths for Black and brown folks in a world that continues to try to erase us.
When asked why she chose to enter the cannabis industry in the first place, Pryor said, “I got into it from a health perspective. I have [Crohn’s Disease], cannabis provided a lot of relief for me.” Being an advocate for the plant caused her to look at the legal industry surrounding it and wonder why none of the people in power looked like the people sitting in jail for being involved with the exact same product. “I realized that there weren’t enough Black people in an industry that felt pretty Black in my experience. So I was really into the idea of talking about that and uplifting [Black and brown people]. I didn’t know it would lead me all the way to where I am now.”
Pryor’s most known for her work with Cannaclusive, who’ve always worked as vocal advocates for minorities in the sector, lobbying for social equity every single time a new state legalizes cannabis. Lately, they’ve been doing consultations with some of the bigger companies in the industry — those who do absolutely nothing to help support communities most harmed by the laws that allow themselves to grab a slice of the billion-dollar cannabis pie. “We are transitioning into doing more inclusion support, diversity support, and marketing support for people that know that they need to have a more authentic relationship with Black, Indigenous, People of…