As a growing number of states continue to legalize the recreational and medical use of cannabis, the plant has morphed to such an extent that it now represents a booming, profitable industry: U.S. sales are projected to reach $80 billion by 2030. Though the market rush has ushered in numerous possibilities—like viable employment, entrepreneurial, and investment opportunities—it supports discriminatory practices that have historically targeted and continue to target Black communities.
According to a report released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) this year, “a Black person is 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Black and white people use marijuana at similar rates.” So while it may make sense that less than 5 percent of all cannabis businesses are Black-owned or founded, Black-owned CBD companies are emerging, despite the odds. And that’s important, given the healing properties the compound stands to offer people of all racial backgrounds.
“It was important for us that people see women of color in this space…because cannabis consumers are all kinds of people.” —Sirita Wright, co-founder of EstroHaze
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive (meaning it won’t get you high) compound commonly extracted from cannabis and hemp. Applied topically or taken orally, CBD has been reported to relieve general pain, treat symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce acne and other skin conditions. But in order to reap its healing benefits, you have to know about it. Sirita Wright, co-founder of EstroHaze, a cannabis-centered media company, says that for Black women in particular, there’s an education and accessibility gap in the CBD market. “It was important for us, and still is very important for us, that people see women of color in this space—whether they are using it straight-up medicinally for eczema, fibromyalgia, or migraines, or are interested in the business, or they’re interested in both,” she says. “It’s important that we help people not feel ashamed, because cannabis consumers are all kinds of people.”
The burgeoning collective of Black and brown entrepreneurs, organizers, and change agents in the CBD industry are ensuring there’s equitable stake in the market and that their communities are included the quest for healing.
Below, find 6 Black-owned CBD companies invested in wellness.
1. Brown Girl Jane
Brown Girl Jane was founded by former financial trading executive Malaika Jones Kebede, her biological sister Nia Jones Alugbin, and beauty expert Tai Beauchamp after Jones Kebede began exploring holistic alternatives to the pharmaceutical drugs she was prescribed to cope with a spinal injury. When CBD became a valuable part of Kebede’s wellness toolkit, she became “somewhat of a plant evangelist, introducing it to women I love,” she says. “One by one, they fell in love with it.”
Soon after, Jones Alugbin and Beauchamp signed on to create the CBD brand to provide a community or sisterhood for women of color. “Here we were, three women who fell in love with this plant [with] very different experiences…but found this community and a sense of purpose on our journey to wholeness,” says Beauchamp.
Brown Girl Jane’s THC-free collection of CBD products is organically grown, plant-based, vegan, and cruelty-free. It includes body butters, serums, tinctures, and oils, alongside on-site content and social content focused on wellness. A portion of sales are donated to organizations that support women of color, like Essie Justice Group, Until Freedom, and the Black Women’s Health Initiative. “We really wanted to expand the conversation [about] and the access [to CBD products], and create a collection that really centered us, our needs, and our story as women of color,” says Jones Kebede.
2. Hollingsworth Hemp
Started in 2013 in Shelton, Washington, the family-run hemp farm and Hollingsworth Cannabis Company, or THC Co. businesses are co-run and operated by parents, Rhonda Hollingsworth and Raft Hollingsworth Jr., and their children, Raft Hollingsworth III and Joy Hollingsworth. The farm is located in an area where less than 1 percent of the population is Black.
The farm also has an interest in philanthropy, most recently, supporting a small, Black-led, Seattle-based nonprofit mission called the Emergency Feeding Program.
3. Total Peace & Wellness
Based in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, near the Pittsburgh area, Total Peace & Wellness is a CBD shop run by Rhonda Broadway and Carlos Smith. It offers a bevy of CBD-infused products like tinctures, pre-rolls, tea and coffee, and soaps, among other items.
The duo is also committed to fighting for criminal-justice reform, donating 5 percent of the sales proceeds to a nonprofit organization that provides social equity for Black and brown communities affected by mass incarceration.
4. Buena Botanicals
After Rah Hines met a hemp-farm owner who shared with her how CBD could ease symptoms anxiety and depression, she approached her twin sister Coral about starting a family-owned cannabis lifestyle brand. In 2019, the two launched Buena Botanicals, a line of all-natural full-spectrum CBD products including bath bars, bath bombs, oils, and creams.
“Even though CBD is really popular now, a lot of people—especially Black and brown people—still don’t understand or know what it is. A lot of our job is to educate our consumers.” —Rah Hines, Buena Botanicals co-founder
The Afro-Latina founders are dedicated to product quality and brand mission alike, with the latter focused on “social responsibility, eco-responsibility, and self-determination.” “Even though CBD is really popular now, a lot of people—especially Black and brown people—still don’t understand or know what it is,” Rah says. “A lot of our job, as a brand and as people, is to educate our consumers.” Buena Botanicals provides healing information and educational resources through virtual meetups and social media content. “We try to be transparent with our familia, which is what we call our followers, and just spread the knowledge,” says Coral.
In addition to donating certain sales proceeds to organizations like Dream Defenders, the duo is developing a membership club to provide additional resources to Buena Botanicals’ customer base.
Having spent a number of years marketing for one of California’s leading cannabis wellness brands, brand builder Kimberly K. Dillon just recently launched her CBD skin-care company Frigg. Named for the Norse goddess of intuition and wisdom, Frigg was inspired by Dillon’s personal journey of navigating burnout and stress. After CBD helped her treat hair, skin, and sleep issues, she worked with beauty professionals, herbalists, doctors, and researchers to create products that include “clean, responsibly sourced, and earth-friendly ingredients.”
“We built a wellness brand, but with beauty tendencies: vibrant, playful and bold,” she writes on the brand’s site. “We are cracking the door on conversation about mental well-being, exhaustion, and how stress can impact us internally and externally, even if it’s disguised as dry skin, insomnia, or an itchy scalp.”
6. Undefined Beauty
Beauty-industry vet Dorian Morris launched Undefined Beauty in 2018, entering the market with the debut collection Indigo Glow, which included CBD products like beauty oil Glow Elixir, gel serum Glow Gelée, and tinted lip treatment Glow Balm. The sustainable brand doesn’t use parabens, sulfates, silicones, artificial dyes, or synthetic fragrances. The products are backed by a social purpose, too: Morris, who’s seen the impact of the criminalization of cannabis, worked with formerly incarcerated women for her first collection.
Morris also created Undefined Collective, a brick-and-mortar location in Oakland, California, featuring women-founded, LGBTQ, and minority-owned brands in addition to Undefined Beauty.