Cannabis advocate wants to give ‘disadvantaged entrepreneurs’ a leg up

Gabrielle Saulsbery//December 31, 2019

Cannabis advocate wants to give ‘disadvantaged entrepreneurs’ a leg up

Gabrielle Saulsbery//December 31, 2019

America’s fastest growing industry is not its most accessible. Dasheeda Dawson wants to change that.

The Princeton University and Rutgers Business School grad is launching a Cannabis Wealth Challenge on Jan. 1 to share for free the knowledge needed to dive into and capitalize on the green rush both in and out of New Jersey to 1,000 entrepreneurs.

From Jan. 1 through Feb. 29, Dawson will be accepting applications to win free access to her introductory cannabis industry digital course, and her “How to Succeed in the Cannabis Industry” workbook, now in its third edition.

Legal cannabis will generate an estimated $14 billion in 2019, but business owners are predominately white folks, who make up more than 80 percent of the class.

Dawson, the driving force behind cannabis marketing firm MJM Strategy and business education service The WeedHead & Co., has helped launch others into the cannabis business all over the country.

”Legal cannabis offers tremendous opportunity, but it is tilted in favor of the wealthy and powerful,” said Dawson “The start-up costs for a dispensary is close to a million dollars, which puts it out of range for most people, particularly those folks who come from communities like East New York [Brooklyn], where I grew up, that were hit hardest by prohibition and unequal enforcement.

“Equity programs are a good start, but truly leveling the playing field requires education and empowerment for those already facing tremendous disadvantages,” she said.

Though the contest is open to everyone, the ultimate goal is to bolster women and minority entrepreneurs, she said, so that they can enter the industry with confidence, skills and resources.

Dawson and other industry pros will sift through submissions to select 1,000 people for the normally $100 course. The goal, she said, is to help each apply the knowledge to earn at least $100,000, generating $100 million in wealth for the communities most burdened by cannabis prohibition and the war on drugs.

There are no shortcuts in the cannabis business, according to Dawson, who is currently on a multi-city book tour promoting “How to Succeed in the Cannabis Industry.” According to an MJM Strategy spokesperson, though no New Jersey stops have been announced yet, they’re currently being finalized.

The first 100 Cannabis Wealth Challenge awardees will be announced in March 1. Thereafter, new winners will be announced in phases every month.