When Being the “ONLY” Isn’t a Win

As posted in elevatenv.com/blackabis

The weight of being THE ONLY is something I wake up to every day. The weight holds me accountable to being focused and intentional. It silently puts a responsibility on me to overachieve and to understand legislative issues and policy. To be the eyes and ears of my Blackness being included. To seek out opportunities for others in the future. To create conversation when necessary and write blogs that make people uncomfortable and think. This is the single most important time of my life and I know it.

It’s easy to dismiss someone who is writing about what they think is going on. It’s harder to dismiss someone who knows. I love what I do. I absolutely love taking care of patients and mentoring my staff. Even with all that gratification, I get my feelings hurt every day because of the color of my skin. My team has learned to brush it off but for me whenever it happens, it still stings.

In 2013 my mentor introduced me to the cannabis industry. It wasn’t long after that I became a cannabis patient. As a minister in an African American Holiness Church I struggled with coming out as a patient and industry leader. How could I tell my community that I was going to “sell drugs legally?” I was afraid I would let my pastor, peers and church down. I didn’t want to be labeled as a “ghetto hood rat” because I choose to use cannabis as treatment for my mental health issues. I didn’t want to let my community down by entering an industry known for incarcerating my people.

Every time I would show up to a City Council, County Commissioner or state meeting I would desperately scan the room hoping to catch a glimpse of others like me. Desiring to connect with someone who could empathize with what I was experiencing. While I haven’t found that community I am looking for, I am grateful to the women in my life who have supported and loved me while I cocooned.

I KNOW I am fortunate that I work in a black-owned establishment. It allows me the opportunity to be who I am freely. To practice and develop my #BLACKGIRLMAGIC openly. To challenge the system AND give voice when the platforms are made available. However, I am very much aware that I work in an industry where my African American owners are the ONLY African American-owned and funded dispensary in Nevada. This makes them part of the one percent of the industry’s African American ownership invested in the cannabis space – a space that is forecasted to have revenues in the $20-billion-dollar range by 2020.

I don’t want to work for THE ONLY African American dispensary in Nevada. I want to be part of a network of African American dispensary owners in Nevada. I don’t feel like I am winning as the “only.” I feel like an evangelist constantly looking for tent service where others like me are gathered on one accord. I started Blackabis because I hoped it would attract other African American men and women in the cannabis Industry. It is my beacon of light in a dark sea. Today we are few but I believe sooner than later we will be plenty.

Ministry & Marijuana “Part 1”

September 2013 I was introduced to the business of marijuana by my mentor. He just walked in one day and said, “we are going to go into the marijuana business and you need to study everything there is to know about marijuana.”
I’ve already told the story on how I thought that was crazy. The story I haven’t told is the story that includes me as a Minister of the Gospel.

 

In 2002 I rededicated my life to God. I instantly fell in love with My God. I mean head over heels. I was a wife and a mother at the time and the ONLY thing I wanted and desired was to be a Godly mother and Wife. Falling in love with God is an overwhelming feeling. I felt I had to tell everyone all about His love. I would stop people in the store hug them and tell them, “My God loves you and so do I!” I was what they would call a Radical Christian. Praying as a habit, study to show myself approved. At church whenever the doors were opened, followed my Pastor wherever he went and beat my Pastor giving. I associated Christ like behavior with being a faithful member. The Church was my responsibility as were their souls.

 
I was proud of all the titles I held in church; Youth pastor, Deaconess, Missionary, Chief Armor Bearer and Minister. I had earned each title with sacrifice, commitment and studying. See, when I fell in love with My God I was already a student of His word. I had been raised 4th generation COGIC (Church of God In Christ) and Mommy and Daddy didn’t play when it came to ensuring we were raised with the Wisdom of God. I quote scriptures by the Chapters not the verse. I was raised to “know His Word for Myself” and to not be dependent on others to interpret His word. When I committed to My God I came with a knowledge of what was Bible and what was Religion, but at the time of my life I needed the religion because I needed the discipline. I allowed myself to submit and to learn humility because I wanted to be loved by My God.

 
Yes, you read that right. I thought I had to earn His love. I hadn’t matured and or evolved to understand that My God loved me just the way I was. I hadn’t embraced His love, I was “found” yet I was still lost. I was preaching His word in Hopelessness. Losing my marriage which was my dream and remaining diligent in church. Struggling in my spirit. I was losing my dream and I was seeking after God’s love. I didn’t realize I already had it.
I was a foolish grown up child with gifts I hadn’t yet embraced. Full of information and no real wisdom. During all this I found out I was Bipolar Type 2 and as result of that I was suffering from depression and increasing Social Anxieties. By 2010 I was divorced and fully engaged In Ministry. Self-employed medicated and in Therapy. My medication was making me numb and my therapy was helping me heal my hurts but I would forever be ill, and medicated. I hated it!

 
It was in 2011 I fell in love with Ministry. I was worshipping under my God Brother and he is a BEAST when it comes to Ministry. He believes in being fully engaged in the people. If we had service 3 days a week, 2 of those services was prayer and outreach. Sunday was the staffs work day. We were there to serve the people. If we weren’t equipped that was too bad, you had all week to get it together. Serving under him made me develop a heart for service. I learned that Ministry was really about the people and my “issues” weren’t a hindrance to my service they were a value. I served “through” my issues. I was in love with Ministry and the gym, I didn’t need medication anymore… I was feeling powerful and in control. I was cured I thought.

 
In 2013, I joined a new church with a new Pastor. This Pastor wasn’t like any other Pastor I had ever met. He expounded on the Bible in a way I had never heard. It was like hearing the word of God for the first time. February 2013 I wasn’t lost anymore. That doesn’t mean I was sound, just means I was found.

 
I hadn’t taken my medication in 2 years and I was managing my issues with prayer, fasting and worship until I heard Pastor Ron Thomas preach. He reminded me that God isn’t a Genie and he doesn’t work in magic and IF I had an issue, I should seek help. I should take care of my mind and my health. He teaches that “YES” God can heal but what does that have to do with taking care of us. We should be good stewards of our temples and THEN God would honor his word. Message after message, service after service, I sat in the front seat of Pastor Thomas church and cried. He wasn’t just teaching God’s word, he was teaching LIFE. I had been lead to believe I couldn’t achieve fullness in Christ unless I submitted to the church. Pastor Thomas was teaching, “Am I the reason you’re coming to church?” “Who am I?” “I am NOT your God!?” “Serve your God the way HE has called you to serve” “Be free in Ministry” “He called me the same way he called you!” I was no longer being held a accountable to Religion but Ministry.

 
In 2014 I woke up!

 
I had been working on Marijuana as a project. Studying and developing plans but not fully engaged. I thought I had to choose between Ministry and my new project. How could I work in Ministry and believe in Marijuana? Religion had taught me that Marijuana is a sin but my research was proving that Marijuana was medicine.
I was intrigued and decided to become fully engaged. In 2014 I became a Medical Marijuana patient. I hadn’t taken western medicine in 3 years and no one knew it. I was silently battling depression and I was ready for relief. I stepped down from the Minister’s staff. I wasn’t sure how to explain to my open-minded, people loving Pastor that I was self-medicating. Not because he wouldn’t be caring but because I didn’t really know what to tell him. Was I self-medicating or just “getting high.”

 

 

One thing I knew for sure is I was hiding and ashamed. My history with religion was hurting me. I thought Religion was behind me and I had embraced “service”. How can I serve God’s people “high?” How could I medicate AND Minister? I was finding out that it wasn’t just Religion for me, it was a culture and medicating had its own culture. Which would I choose?

 

 

In 2015 we opened the Dispensary. October 10th 2015 I waited on my first patient. She had been suffering from Cancer and had been purchasing her marijuana on the streets. As I discussed the attributes of the 5 strains we had, I realized I wasn’t a pusher. She was ill and I was helping her choose her treatment. I listened to her story and met her need. I prayed with her, hugged her and she left. I could relate to her because I too was a patient and had been experiencing relief. Like her, I was no longer depressed and or felt hopeless. I had found a medication that I could choose AND didn’t have to take every day. I had chosen. I wanted BOTH! Ministry AND Marijuanabible-marijuana

PART 2…. Next Week. How I transitioned from Hiding to becoming an advocate of Marijuana