As the focus shifts to retail operations, the cultivation and processing of cannabis forms the essential foundation of the emerging legal industry. Standard Wellness Maryland, an MBE/DBE/CBE company, made history on Friday, April 1, 2022 by becoming the first cannabis company with a black and Latino majority owner to be licensed for cultivation in the state of Maryland. Christina Betancourt Johnson, CEO of Standard Wellness Maryland (SWM) is also the first Afro-Latina to run a licensed cultivation business in the United States.
Standard Wellness Maryland’s historic license is the culmination of an uphill battle in a limited license state. In response to calls for bias and unfairness in the application process and a lengthy appeal, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission recently granted a handful of minority-owned businesses cultivation and processing licenses. Standard Wellness Maryland is one of its new licensees.
Maryland Standard Wellness
“I am grateful for the support we have received throughout this process,” said Christina Betancourt Johnson, CEO of Standard Wellness Maryland. “From lawmakers to other cannabis entrepreneurs, we have been encouraged and supported in this endeavor. Seeing other people of color running successful cannabis businesses was inspiring and motivating. It has been an interesting journey and I am thrilled with the impact Standard Wellness Maryland will have on our state and the communities most affected by Prohibition”
Johnson leads Standard Wellness Maryland’s leadership team, comprised of DMV natives who understand the unique needs of local communities. SWM is centered on its values of community engagement, collective well-being, and wealth creation for generations of people harmed by the nationwide cannabis ban and war on drugs. SWM seeks to be at the forefront of community education and economic empowerment to ensure the wrongs of the past are righted.
SWM firmly believes that health should be a source of courage and well-being without judgement. Over the years, a stigma around cannabis and its users has become entrenched in society. It became associated with deviance and crimeespecially for black and brown people who are arrested at 4 times the rate of their white counterparts nationally.
Cannabis businesses owned by Blacks and Latinas
“What’s really important in our community is that we de-stigmatize cannabis, not just for restorative justice, and not just because of decades of over-policing in our communities“, Johnson says. “But also because cannabis, at its core, is a wellness product. And if we don’t do well, neither will our communities.
As one of the nation’s only black and Latino owners of a licensed cannabis company, Johnson recognizes his responsibility to be a community resource. SWM strives to elevate and improve the DMV market by creating clean, premium cannabis products that positively impact people’s lives. Johnson also owns Rooted Therapeutics, a DC-based cannabis company that is seeking a medical establishment license in the city. Both organizations will provide educational programs, philanthropic investments and workforce development opportunities in the DMV region.
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