Susan Nicholson has been granted an official license to open a medical cannabis dispensary in South Jersey.
Nicholson recently made history by being among the first black cannabis entrepreneurs to win a permit to sell cannabis to patients with her company, Holistic Solutions. In this interview, I sat at Wilson’s, a jazz restaurant in High Nyla. She chose this site for its historical significance.
Jazz, the type of music strongly associated with cannabis and derided by the government, is just one of many examples of how the plant has always had a historical foothold in the most influential aspects of American pop culture.
It is located in Camden County, Nicholson, and plans to open a retail store with a focus on the legal market that takes root from the cultural underground it created.
Amidst colorful pictures, musical instruments and a whole host of bands, she talks about their background, the transition from the underground market, also known in industry circles as the old market, and why now is the time for ethical business to lead the way culturally in incorporation. A healthy and holistic cannabis culture. This interview has been edited for clarity.
Q: What is your background and how do you define what you bring to the market?
a: I was born in Jamaica. My people come from West Africa. From there, we’ve been farming and farming forever. Through spirituality and eventually the slave trade, our people ended up in Jamaica.
Our family is descended from the descendants of escaped slaves who, when landing on the beautiful beaches of Jamaica, fled into the hills.
From that, it was an unofficial tradition upheld by many women in our culture and called herbalists. Everything I learned about cannabis was passed down through women’s traditions and my mother’s.
Q: When we talk about the transmission of traditions, a lot of cultures from the African continent pass on knowledge through oral traditions. Is this how you gained your knowledge?
a: at all. My mother was a wonderful storyteller. In the herbalist, spirituality, the origin of African roots is still true. In oral stories, [there are] Our cultures, our food, our language and identify some of the medicinal roots in the hill.
My mother did not believe in traditional medicine. I rarely went to the doctor. Most of her treatments were home remedies. She was a passionate learner and we were avid listeners.
Q: When I think of that word, “traditional medicine,” what you just described was a tradition for your family, right?
a: It was. Not just medicine but spiritual. Hemp was a plant of reverence and spirituality bestowed on healing. Deliberate stigmatization has led to what we are currently experiencing in the war on drugs that has harmed blacks and blacks.
Now, on a global scale, countries have emerged and nationalized rationing. I hope America leads the way, especially after cannabis [arrests] It affects the black and brown communities at a higher rate than confinement even though we all use the plant in the same way.
Q: What story do you want to convey to your brand?
a: I think comprehensive solutions are an opportunity to see cannabis from a black female voice. We are the keepers of our community. If there is an impact and disruption of the family, then this disturbance is usually on the part of the woman.
In it, there is a lot of stigma in the use of cannabis. I hope to reduce stigmas because so many people use cannabis for a variety of reasons, whether it is to medically deal with any physical, mental or other related ailments or a spiritual and recreational use, I believe providing a female voice in a male-dominated setting always gives light and opportunity different.
I am a mother.
Ensure that the product is safe and responsible in the foreground. We want to make sure that the cannabis we bring to market is diversified. Many cannabis entrepreneurs are not recognized because they are unable to expand the market. They have no chance of exposure. This is one of the things that comprehensive solutions will offer – a diverse range and shelving space.
I think having a woman–and black women who understand both sides–whether it’s business or infrastructure for what’s needed, I often realize there wasn’t a lot of product geared toward me.
We love a good bag. I have women who look at curated cannabis with the same level of sophistication, but it is not presented to us.
Those proverbs are cross-sectional and diverse, not single ethnic. We all love fashion, we all love art. We are sitting in a beautiful jazz restaurant where people are connoisseurs and jazz comes from different walks of life.
In providing that shared life and respect for the plant and working with operators in the market that are so sophisticated to give comprehensive solutions what you need, I think it would be a great opportunity.
Q: What about municipal pullouts who don’t want to be part of the industry?
a: I think these are ongoing discussions. Back to education. Understand what some of the concerns are and make this disclosure.
Form a committee, leave your concerns behind. Ask the committee to provide education and exposure systematically. Travel. I think sometimes when people are afraid of something, it’s because they are not aware of it.
You are doing something that is a hindrance by depriving your residents of that opportunity. They now have to go to other cities, municipalities and regions to engage in the cannabis trade.
Just because people choose to opt out, that doesn’t make it unsubscribe forever. There is still opportunity for education.
Q: How would you describe your journey so far?
a: I’ve always felt that if we had the opportunity – as a small mover that could – we would be thrown off the tracks, unrecognized, but we don’t do it for the sake of recognition.
We do this to honor the factory for providing patience. A different approach to medicine to provide communities with a great place to come and interact. We want to remove the transactional link. Building relationships is important and I believe in building those relationships there will be a great opportunity to create a different brand.
Q: A lot of old operators are still skeptical that legal cannabis includes them, what do you think about that?
a: It’s about leading by example. It’s about having a conversation where you meet people wherever they are. Have conversations about the value of why people are in the old market for economic sustainability. If confinement occurs, product malfunctions, when you are locked up, you and your family do not save.
You have a chance in the legal market.
You are building a business that you can legally go through. One of the things people of color do not have is the generational wealth. This is an opportunity to create a generational wealth that we can pass on to our children. You cannot leave something illegal to your children.
Q: How does it feel in the American context to sit in a jazz club and talk about legal cannabis sales?
a: This is madness. I think it’s the American dream. Living the best American dream. I always say our ancestors cheer, my mother, my father in Zion smile. To sit here, now as a cannabis operator in my state is great.