By Brian Van Remmen
Roz McCarthy always knew that cannabis could make things better. Growing up in Florida, her dad had glaucoma, and her mom would say that smoking a joint could probably clear it right up! Although both of her parents passed away, and her teenage son struggles with sickle cell disease (with cannabis functioning as a pain and inflammation manager), Roz approaches life with an amazingly positive view, mirrored in the aims of the foundation she started, Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM).
Arriving to the industry with a business background in pharmaceuticals, she realized she needed to “come out of the cannabis closet” to embrace opportunities and communicate the underrepresentation of minorities in various job spaces. M4MM’s mission sets out to change that; under Roz’s direction, the organization provides advocacy, outreach, research, and training as it relates to the business, social reform, public policy, and health /wellness in the cannabis industry. Roz’s goal is “to fight against negative stereotypes, especially in African American communities. The ACLU’s research shows that African Americans are four times more likely to be stopped, arrested, and charged for marijuana related offenses than other groups.”
By focusing the foundation around four major pillars of Public Policy, Health/ Wellness, Business and Workforce Development, and Social Reform, M4MM outlines a structured plan for minority leadership in cannabis. Individuals looking to enter the industry can gain support through the organization’s programming, one of the most successful being “Ready, Set, Grow,” which allows students to find and obtain internships and apprenticeships. This year, M4MM placed three Florida students in internships for cannabis-related businesses. They learn fields such as retail, delivery and distribution services, logistics, research, and health/wellness.
Another program is “HerbanPharm,” which includes discussion groups and information on hemp farming, processing and licensing, and education of new farmers. “LatinX” is the Hispanic outreach area of the foundation, while the “Vets with Voices” program connects veterans in need of medication, providing ongoing support and education to engage them in the developing industry. Finally, the city-specific “Project Clean Slate,” allocates job resources and wraparound services – including better pre-screening and preparation – to empower individuals who have a minor charge that could potentially be expunged.
A new endeavor by M4MM is “Brue Jobs” with the goal of “being true to black and brown people who want to get into the industry,” Roz says. “This job platform is for diverse candidates wanting to transfer their skill set to cannabis.” Built off the “Ready, Set, Grow” program, Brue will have three components: an available jobs database to search and apply through, a supply and diversity component, where small businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans or the disabled can link up with large cannabis companies trying to outsource contracts. Thirdly, there is a People Pipeline connection for internships via “Ready Set Grow.”
One of the greatest accomplishments for Roz and M4MM was to craft a diversity requirement to medical marijuana’s legalization in Florida, stipulating that women, people of color, and veterans all have greater access to opportunities in the industry. This will enable them to become a priority focus of licenseholders that can hire and work with these individuals. The important amendment was eventually written into law, a huge win for M4MM.
The best part is that upcoming legislation in places like New Jersey, Maine, and other states can utilize this requirement as a template for their legislation as well. It’s this kind of work that placed Roz squarely on the list of High Times’ Top 100 Most Influential People in cannabis! So check out the website above, sign up for the newsletter, and continue the great work that Roz has started!