Sue Taylor is still glowing about a dream that became a reality as she celebrates the fourth anniversary of Farmacy Berkeley, the first and only Black woman-owned cannabis dispensary in Berkeley, California.

The former Catholic school principal never imagined she’d be working in the cannabis industry. After a close friend of hers lost their battle with cancer, she learned about the health benefits the plant offers, ABC 7 reported. This enlightenment caused a shift in her perspective on cannabis since elements of it are beneficial to senior citizens.

“I feel some kind of way in my heart that I didn’t serve as well because my mindset wasn’t on cannabis. Because I was secretly afraid of it because of the reefer madness that was instilled in me as I was growing up,” Taylor told ABC 7.

To help inform more elders about the positive impact marijuana can have on their lives, Taylor gathered support from her peers and family, who all invested money to help her reach her goal of opening a dispensary. In addition to the funds she received from her village, she used all the money in her retirement savings account. Despite the entrepreneur having financial support, it was still an uphill battle for Taylor and her team. During this time, she says she was denied buildings, loans and more due to racially charged reasons. After eight years of advocating and overcoming obstacles, they finally received a permit.

“It took us eight years. Before we could get that permit,” Taylor said. “No, no, it was eight years of activist work, like trying to get a building, trying to get in, trying to fit in, being African Americans and get the door slammed in my face in, in our face, and not wanting to rent buildings to us and all that we went through all those kinds of challenges.”


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According to Leafly’s Jobs Report 2021, although African Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population, they only have a 1.2% to 1.7% stake of ownership in the cannabis industry. In addition, the history between Black Americans and marijuana laws has always been biased as these regulations were used by officials to “criminalize” Black and brown community members, who were arrested at higher rates compared to their white counterparts per an ACLU report, according to ABC 7.

“We had to make sure I’s were dotted and our T’s were crossed because we didn’t want to get incarcerated,” Taylor said.

Since Taylor successfully established a customer base at Farmacy Berkeley, she has evolved her business by creating a CBD line named “Mama Sue,” her nickname, for senior citizens in need of pain relief. She eventually plans to open a wellness center to further her efforts in helping elders within the California community.

“You keep recreating yourself,” she said. “If you want to live a boring life, keep doing the same thing all your life. Boring.”

Through her shop, Taylor hopes to continue changing the narrative that people her age have been told about marijuana for decades to help them feel as good as she does. Furthermore, she’s happy to be a beacon of hope in her city for people of color who are interested in entering the cannabis industry.

“It was quite an honor. To be that representative of because so many African Americans is people of color who were incarcerated for cannabis from the get right from the beginning,” she said. “And so to have an African American family open up, a dispensary, such as it gave us a lot of pride.”