Cannabis J.E.D.I.

Parallel and Black CannaBusiness Work to Empower Cannabis CEOs of Color

Boston – Black CannaBusiness (BCB) and cannabis operator Parallel recently returned to Boston to kick off the second year of their national education series for CEOs of color in the cannabis industry. The Black Cannabusiness CEO Intensive Program is a free, six-week, executive training program for cannabis business owners, featuring both virtual and in-person workshops and training.

The initiative began with a cohort in Boston on 4/20 of last year with a class of 16 minority cannabis entrepreneurs, and has since trained more than 100 CEOs in cohorts across the country. Developed by Brandon L. Wyatt Esq. and Todd Hughes, co-founders of the BCB CEO Intensive, the curriculum draws on the experience of business leaders and advisors in the industry from across the country.

“Our goal is to provide CEOs of color with foundational knowledge and a network of mentors, fellow entrepreneurs, and cannabis executives they can leverage to take their business to the next level. We hope to increase the number of cannabis business owners of color by providing them with resources to thrive,” said Hughes.

CEOs in the Boston cohort commenced the six-week program with a two-day in-person session that introduced them to cannabis industry leaders and their expert mentorship on running a cannabis business. They will next complete twice-a-week virtual sessions designed to provide insights on how to navigate critical business areas like marketing and financing.

“A business education tailored for cannabis executives of color is impactful because it is culturally competent. BCB facilitators of color lead the program and CEO participants get the chance to network with other entrepreneurs of color. These elements help provide a clearer path to success,” said Wyatt.

“We enter the second year of the program having seen some of the positive impact the program has had upon first year participants. Parallel is hopeful that the collaboration with BCB will help elevate the success of minority business owners in the cannabis industry,” said James Jackson, senior director of social equity at Parallel.

“Minorities played a significant role in cultivating this market long before it became the massive industry it is today, yet now, many of us have been shut out of the cannabis industry and struggle to successfully operate in this new landscape,” said Jonathan Torres, a legacy operator and CEO of OnePR Business Development, who participated in the Boston cohort. “The CEO Intensive teaches you a lot about having the right mindset in a sector where there is so much to learn and connects you with a network of mentors that can help you grow professionally and thrive in the industry.”

Despite state-led efforts to promote equity in cannabis, black entrepreneurs in Massachusetts still comprise less than 2% of the owners in the industry, according to a jobs report published by Leafly.  Meanwhile, the legal cannabis industry in the U.S. is forecasted to reach $50.7 billion by 2028.