Q&A with Roz McCarthy: Founder and CEO of Minorities for Medical Marijuana
The Cannabis 50 celebrates the organizations, individuals, and companies who are working to build a responsible, sustainable, and equitable future for the cannabis, hemp, and related industries. In addition to the 2021 Cannabis 50 Impact Review, we are also sharing interviews with our honorees to help spread their messages of positivity and growth.
In a year that brought many changes to the industry, Orlando-based nonprofit Minorities for Medical Marijuana stayed steadfast in its mission to providing cannabis industry advocacy, outreach, research, and training related to business, social reform, public policy, and health and wellness. We sat down with the organization’s founder and CEO, Roz McCarthy, to discuss how we can all do our part to destigmatize cannabis, promoting the positive effects of the plant, and how the industry will look in 2022.
MGO: How long have you been involved in the cannabis industry? What inspired you to get involved with cannabis?
Roz McCarthy, Founder and CEO of M4MM: I’ve been a part of the cannabis industry since 2016. As a non-user, I was intrigued by the industry after doing research on the medical benefits of the plant. This was especially after I lost loved ones very close to me whom I realized could have really benefited from the use of cannabis.
But the Black community is extremely averse to the plant from a medical perspective—it has the attitude that it’s a “gateway” drug, describing the plant as the “devil’s lettuce.” This is what convinced me that creating a nonprofit organization focused on advocacy and education was the right thing to do. M4MM was born in the hopes of breaking negative stigmas in communities of color. Reimagining the plant as medicine—and not a gateway drug—is something we do daily with 27 state chapters committed to this mission.
MGO: The cannabis industry saw several themes emerge in 2021. What do you think was the biggest one?
McCarthy: Definitely social equity and, in turn, social impact business models. I think companies are struggling to define and understand the best way to support and embrace social equity. These same companies are striving to measure social impact once the dollars they donate to nonprofit and advocacy organizations have been accessed and utilized. It’s something I think we will continue to see trending beyond 2021.
MGO: What were the biggest highlights and most positive changes for M4MM in 2021? What about for the cannabis industry at large?
McCarthy: For MM4, it was the addition of New York and New Jersey as adult and legalized states. This was a huge stride for us—and the industry. Our education and engagement, especially with policymakers, were at an all-time high, which I believe was due to sensitive issues like social equity, tax revenue sharing, and community reengagement. The industry also saw federal legalization efforts surrounding the SAFE Banking Act, Cao Act, and the MORE Act. I’m hopeful that all the new policies created to make this industry a fairer and more equitable one will be executed in a way that ultimately lives up to its promise.
MGO: What should the cannabis industry be focused on in 2022—and beyond—to keep it moving forward in a positive way?
McCarthy: Because access to banking and capital is still a real issue for the industry as whole—and especially for small and minority owned businesses—it needs to continue flexing its muscles to rally around sensible policy reform such as SAFE Banking and the MORE Act.
MGO: How do you think the cannabis industry will continue to evolve in 2022? What are you personally most excited about?
McCarthy: I believe we will see a lot of mergers and acquisitions carry forward into the new year from 2021. Brands will consolidate, and new product categories will be introduced. I’m in love with product options that are focused on health and wellness, and I hope to see more of that on the market.
MGO: Who else in the cannabis industry inspires you by making a positive impact?
McCarthy: You know, the social equity operators who survived the robberies and smash-and-grab attempts at the end of 2021 really encourage me to endure the tough times. I want to give a special shout-out to Tucky Blunt from Blunts & Moore. His social equity dispensary, located in Oakland, California, was robbed twice in 2021. But despite that, he still has a positive attitude and continues to push through.