Ancillary marijuana businesses offer disadvantaged entrepreneurs a way into the industry without having to compete for a cannabis license or start with enormous liquid assets, according to industry leaders.

At the “Achieving Equity in Cannabis” networking event at MJBizCon, entrepreneurs of color advised their colleagues not to count on political promises that states and cities will do better to ensure communities damaged by the drug war are included in the new industry.


“Stop calling it ‘social equity,'” said Christine De La Rosa, CEO of The People’s Ecosystem, a business accelerator and group of California cannabis brands.

“None of you can point to any state that has a successful social equity program. … They made it into ‘Hunger Games’ for people of color.”

But ancillary businesses such as lighting and heating-and-ventilation companies offer lower barriers to entry because owners don’t need to compete for a limited number of licenses or pay steep cannabis taxes.

Key insights to inform decisions: MJBizFactbook 

Say hello to marijuana business data, curated by the editors of MJBizDaily to help cannabis industry leaders make informed decisions.

  • U.S. marijuana industry financials
  • Licensing, funding and investment trends
  • State-by-state guide to regulations, taxes and opportunities
  • Insights for business and investment strategy

“Look at what else you can do to get into this business,” said Hope Wiseman, CEO of Mary and Main, a dispensary in Maryland.

MJBizCon continues through Friday in Las Vegas.

Read more about equity in the cannabis industry in this free report, “Women & Minorities in the Cannabis Industry.”

– Kristen Nichols