As the legal weed industry has grown over the last couple of years, it’s become clear that every corner of the cannabis trade suffers from the same lack of diversity as so many other fields. Entrepreneurs of minority backgrounds have told me that, despite legalization, they’re still at greater risk of harassment and arrest from the authorities. Female entrepreneurs have told me that cannabis culture is historically male-centric. This is why it’s particularly refreshing to see motivated people of all backgrounds and genders breaking through such boundaries to establish themselves in this growing market. We know that the barrage of new marijuana businesses will continue, but it’s the ingenuity behind the products that will decide which ones last. Diversity is inevitable.
Rachel Markowitz is the founder of Juanabox.com—essentially a Birchbox for cannabis accessories. In this latest Weed People, she shares some of her views on legalization.
Describe your involvement with cannabis in all aspects; both personal and professional.
I started using cannabis back in high school with some friends, purely for recreational use. As schoolwork piled up with SAT studies and the pure fear of deciding my future with college choices, I began to develop anxiety. This is when cannabis use became personal for me.
I entered college as a tiny quiet girl, swarmed in a sea of over 600 male engineers. This was my first encounter as a woman in a male-dominated field. As college progressed on, my cannabis consumption became more regular. This allowed me to put my fears and anxieties aside and make what I wanted of my life.
Shortly after graduation I was hired by a consulting company which cleaned up spills for one of the largest oil companies in the world. My managerial role required me to give up marijuana, as random drug tests on construction sites were a given. Not happy with the life this job was providing for myself, and more importantly, my family’s life, I quit my job and went back to school to get a masters in industrial engineer. My husband and I decided to start our family, and the night of my graduation I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy, Casey Jones.
With a new mindset in wanting to provide the best life for my new family, the cannabis industry and its potential was calling for me. My new education in quality improvement and efficiency, combined with my knowledge in the cannabis industry, gave me the capability of creating JuanaBox.com.
JuanaBox.com is now moments away from delivering quality smoking accessories to doorsteps around the country. I am now no longer that shy college freshman, but a strong, flourishing businesswoman.
How is state-level legalization affecting your cannabis-related activities?
Legalization across the country has made it easier for people to ‘come out of the closet’ and talk about their involvement with cannabis. This has allowed myself and JuanaBox.com to network with companies around the country, whom otherwise may have been discouraged to do so.
What are some of the victories of state-level legalization in your area?
As a New Yorker, our largest and latest victory was becoming the twenty-third state to legalize medical marijuana. Although the bill is very limiting and not exactly what we hoped it would be, it is a start in the right direction!
What are some of the failures of state-level legalization in your area?
The bill that passed in New York, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo leaves out many provisions, which will not allow patients to actually smoke cannabis. The bill limits the number of actual growers, as well as dispensaries across the state.
What is the biggest challenge facing legalization on a state level?
Our weak decriminalization laws have large loopholes, allowing arrests to be made if the cannabis is ‘open to public view.’ This takes a minor possession law with a small fine, and converts it to an offense in which you can be arrested.
Do you believe the federal government is making progress towards decriminalization or legalization?
I absolutely believe that progress is being made towards decriminalization and legalization federally. I remember when my great grandmother would tell me about prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933. If they could make progressive changes, so can this generation.
How long, do you predict, before weed is completely legal in America?
I believe we have to remain positive, and then the time will come! I do not think it will be long before marijuana is completely legal in America. Who knows? Maybe in a few years JuanaBox.com will deliver quality cannabis right to your doorstep!