Famed for its bold culture, gorgeous views of Lake Michigan, iconic skyscrapers, and being one city with three area codes, the city of Chicago is one of the most beautiful melting pots in the Midwest; also one of the most populated cities in the United States.
In Chicago, located in the legal cannabis state of Illinois, Hispanics are the largest minority group, accounting for over 28 percent of Chicago’s population. In the cannabis industry, less than 1 percent of the dispensaries seen in Chicago are minority owned; a larger number of BIPOC individuals are serving time in Illinois prisons for cannabis-related offenses than participating in the legal market. The Chicago Tribune reported that in 2022, Hispanics/Latinos made up the second highest number of cannabis related offenses.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated every year from September 15 - Oct 15, I’m featuring one of my favorite melting pots in this country and cannabis business owner Yesenia Roman. Yesenia is the owner of Cannabaddie Talk, a women's wellness website dedicated to cannabis consumers and discussing everyday issues cannabis consumers deal with; from life and health to sex and dating, nothing is off-limits.
Meet Yesenia Roman, Founder Of Cannabaddie Talk
Yesenia was born in Little Village, Chicago to parents from Mexico. Her mother descends from Germany and her father from the indigenous cultures of Durango, Mexico. She was raised by a single mother who was extremely hardworking and says: “I am blessed with a big family and so my best friends growing up were always my cousins.”
She describes her household with gratitude: “My home life was me, my brother, and my sister with my mom. We spent a lot of time eating at restaurants and exploring the city.” When she talks about her mom, she glows. “My mom was always very progressive and so, I grew up in a very modern household.”
Get To Know Yesenia Roman And Learn About Her Journey To Cannabis Business Owner
VERONICA CASTILLO: Can you share insights into your family history with cannabis and if/when you were introduced to the plant?
YESENIA ROMAN: My first encounter with cannabis was through my mother. Her second husband / life partner was a long time dealer and so cannabis was a common sight in our household. We knew it was a “drug,” but my mom really used it medicinally on us, keeping an alcohol bottle filled with cannabis around for bumps and bruises. My mom would rub her alcohol / cannabis mixture onto any sprains or bruises I developed. It was very much a medicine. It wasn’t until later in my teen years, when my older siblings and cousins would get together to smoke, that I really realized what it was. Initially I had negative opinions about it, mainly because I was terrified of getting in trouble with my mom.
What’s your personal relationship with cannabis?
My personal relationship with cannabis has always been based on healing. When I first began smoking, I quickly realized how it made me feel. I made note of internal changes and over time enjoyed the feeling of ‘being high” over drinking or any other vice. For me, weed isn’t a vice, it is life enhancing.
Do you have a “coming out of the cannabis closet” story?
As someone who was always in sales, my cannabis consumption had to be a secret. It wasn’t until three years ago when I started my blog that I accepted it as common knowledge. Today, I am confident and secure in my consumption, and speak freely when possible.
What's something about your culture and people that you find beautiful?
I am definitely connected to my culture through music and through food. I love dancing and even though I’ve lived my entire life in the U.S, I primarily listen to Mexican music and primarily eat Mexican food. Certain songs and foods bring me back to my childhood, and they also connect my childhood with my moms childhood in Mexico.
Tell me about 10-year-old you; what/who did you want to do and be?
10-year-old me wanted to be an Archaeologist. More specifically, I wanted to be an Egyptologist, and study ancient Egypt. I was always drawn to history and obsessed with Ancient Egyptian life. I wanted to be a Librarian and Historian at the Cairo Museum.
How did your cannabis events brand/business Cannabaddie Talk come to be?
When recreational cannabis was legalized in Illinois, I desperately searched for my community. A community of POC who were professionals, who grew up in the inner cities, and who smoked cannabis like me. Unfortunately, I never found a space that I felt I could not only thrive in, but also provide a safe space for others like me to thrive in. Cannabaddie Talk was born out of a desire to create respectful cannabis marketing for the cannabis- consuming POC. All of the events curated and articles published are with the hope to empower these same people.
Illinois is such a corporate cannabis state. For those who don’t want to spend money with corporate cannabis, but to vibe out in Chicago for a weekend and make it all about cannabis, what or who should they check out?
I try to actively promote quality legacy brands that I align myself with. I would definitely consider my Instagram and website a resource for people coming into Illinois and choosing to not purchase from a dispensary. I actively share events and brands that not only serve cannabis consumers, but who also actively advocate for POC.
As it relates to Hispanic/Latino-owned businesses in cannabis, in and around Chicago, what do you think needs to be different/improved/discussed/addressed?
As of today, the percentage of ownership that is Latino / Hispanic is very small. I think we need a bigger focus on the Spanish-speaking consumer and the urban demographic. Just like any industry: money talks, and we currently hear more and more from MSO’s and the organizations with a big financial backing. I would love to see more spotlights on the true Social Equity applicants.
For more about Cannabaddie Talk and Chicago cannabis, visit cannabaddietalk.com.
Special Thanks To Cannabis Business Sponsors
Thank you to the following sponsors!
Weedgets is a company making accessories designed to eliminate the harshness of smoke with advanced smoke filtration and cooling technology.
Higher Maintenance CBD is a company making plant based products and infusing them with USDA Certified Organic PremiumCBD: full and broad spectrum: gummies, tinctures, syrups, beauty products and more.
Veronica Castillo is the Traveling Cannabis Writer from Miami, with a pre-cannabis and psychedelics background in insurance and human resources. Currently, she is a resident of the road covering cannabis, psychedelics, and plant-based lifestyles all over the U.S and soon abroad. Follow her journey on IG at @vee_travelingvegcannawriter and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vee-traveling-veg-canna-writer/
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Featured image: (C) MiddleWeb