“My old school would call me ‘Indyka’ and I tattooed it,” says Evelyn Zapata.

The New York native of Dominican descent is proud of her old nickname, which would prove a testament to her love of the plant. She’s a true East Coast OG - “I hustled out of the same corner from 1989 to 2016/2017” - and describes how she got into selling cannabis at age 19 because of an eviction notice after her husband got shot.

Who Is Evelyn Zapata, Founder Of The New York Cannabis Times?

Today, Zapata is the founder of multiple companies and organizations, including the New York Cannabis Times, a news source covering all aspects of the cannabis culture; WeedClinic.org; the social equity nonprofit Not One OG Left Behind; and a co-founder of the Cannabis and Hemp Hispanic Business Alliance (CHHBA), among others. But she’s still adjusting to a landscape where those used to working in shadow can be more public.

Evelyn Zapata, founder of the New York Cannabis Times (C) Evelyn Zapata

How Did Cannabis Affect Evelyn Zapata's Relationship With Her Mother?

“I had 30 years of an estranged relationship with my mom because of weed,” Zapata explains. “I was the black sheep. She wanted me to be a journalist - not a cannabis journalist, but that’s what she got. My mission now is to inform seniors in the Latin community who deem cannabis as crack, to change someone’s mind one person at a time.”

Zapata’s mother passed away from cancer in May 2022, but the two women were actually able to reconnect due to an effort in cannabis education. “My mom hadn’t liked me because of weed, but in the end it gave her back to me. I gave her ten weeks of [Rick Simpson Oil, a powerful medical cannabis extract]. I saw it working… The RSO cut [her suffering] in half - she was cleaning, cooking, and bathing herself... I admitted that I was giving her stronger weed than what I smoked.”

(C) Evelyn Zapata

Cannabis For Health: Evelyn Zapata's Robin Hood Senior Day Project

Currently the advocate runs a “Robin Hood Senior Day” project at the Washington Heights senior center on Audubon Avenue. With Etain Health, TribeTokes, Mary Says, Chime & Chill, TONIC CBD and other partners, Zapata helps donate CBD creams and topicals to the facility’s mainly Dominican senior population and educates them on the plant’s health benefits. 

Why Does Evelyn Zapata Do What She Does?

While she loves bringing news directly to the people, the New York Cannabis Times founder admits it’s hard finding trustworthy allies. “I share news just like I would share to my colleagues that the feds are lined up around the corner. The same should be done in this new corner called the legal industry… There are many undercover types in the boardrooms. Many I consider an honor to roll with - and many I choose to steer clear from.” 

(C) Evelyn Zapata

Evelyn Zapata On Her Personal Journey, Running The New York Cannabis Times, And Being A Woman In Cannabis

HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: You've had a long experience in the legacy space, but you don't often talk about yourself. What would you like to share from your personal history?

EVELYN ZAPATA: I am atypical. Mami took me to psychologists and psychiatrists till I went into ninth grade. They said I had ADD [that could be treated with] medication or task therapy. She chose task; she put me in private school. I took art, piano lessons, violin, up until my sister was born. The primary after-school programs were my duty. But if [I didn't have those], I would sit stagnant after homework in the dark. Still for hours. Weed changed that at age 17 and made me focus all the worlds in my mind.

I started selling weed [at] age 19... I was fired from my job and at least fifty percent of my elementary school friends were the '80s and '90s drug dealers that I occasionally smoked with. One of them, "Black Mike," noticed I had been crying. I told him I got fired; he started laughing, told me to buy an ounce of weed.

To be able to thrive in a male-dominated industry, you must leave all periods, ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, and miscarriages. Just bring deodorant and pads. Emotions carry no weight. There are no tears in a corner. The only excuse is a drought, a raid, or a shootout.

At 42, I went back to school. A Biology major at [Bronx Community College] and the Health and Human Services program [at Mandl School, The College of Allied Health]. I think I passed through the skin of my teeth... But at Mandl, I finished with 18 certifications more than my graduating class. I then worked a day job as a health educator for Planned Parenthood, until my mom passed. Now the New York Cannabis Times is my full-time duty.

(C) Evelyn Zapata

What is the biggest challenge of running a cannabis publication?

Finding good media publishers. TRUSTING.

How does your work as a journalist interconnect with your work as a community advocate, educator, and mentor?

As a consumer and as an advocate, it is valuable to be able to know where the demand is at. Whether it be in education, opportunity, easy access can be voiced through me.

What do you wish more people knew about your job?

The pressures of getting the right information to the people.

What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment in the cannabis space so far?

One of my biggest accomplishments has been the [New York City] Proclamation and Citation, for now.

What is your hope for the future of New York's cannabis industry?

Easier transition for those in legacy wanting to enter legal cannabis.

(C) Evelyn Zapata

How do you like to consume cannabis?

Vapes, dabbing, joints (flower).

What's your favorite strain?


What's one of the worst things about being a woman in cannabis?

Being antagonized by men and not taken seriously.

What's one of the best things about being a woman in cannabis?

I really don’t think about it so much as being in the cannabis space. But as one of the very few, it is good to know that I could inspire another woman to step into the industry.

For more about Evelyn Zapata and the New York Cannabis Times, check out the New York Cannabis Times LinkTree here and or follow @NYCannabisTimes on Twitter and on Facebook.

*A version of this article originally appeared in Honeysuckle's 17th print edition, featuring Havoc of Mobb Deep. Get your copy now at dispensaries nationwide or click here to order!

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Featured image: Evelyn Zapata, founder of the New York Cannabis Times (C) Evelyn Zapata