These Women Are the Ones to Watch in the CBD Industry

When you think of cannabis, does your mind go to weed? Specifically, does it go to the thought of smoking it? If so, while you're definitely thinking of the right plant, you may not be completely familiar with all of the benefits of cannabis.

According to Healthline, as opposed to THC, CBD does not have as strong a psychoactive impact on the body, and has been proven to help with anxiety, depression, psychosis, and even seizures.

Kimberly Dillon is the first Black CMO in the cannabis industry, and she says cannabinoids are some of the most worthy fighters against the battle of inflammation, especially in the body and its largest organ: the skin.

While Dillon isn't suggesting that CBD is a cure-all solution, she notes that it can help to reduce and alleviate inflammation. She further explains that for hair products in specific, CBD ingredients can help soothe scalp tension and irritation, while creating an environment for health hair growth when combined with other active ingredients.

"I believe in using CBD inside and out. Internally you can address the root of the problem, which is internal inflammation and also chronic stress," Dillon explains to InStyle. "A recent stress study showed that Black people are more stressed than other groups. When you have too much cortisol going around, of course, you are going to have hair loss, or your skin is going to glow less."

As a Black woman in the cannabis industry, Dillon recognizes the importance of other Black women infiltrating the green rush and becoming more involved in the cannabis industry. She describes Black women as a "hidden part" of the cannabis industry and employs us to not only focus on economic wealth, but creating the products to promote community building.

While Dillon was working with research company Oasis Intelligence, they conducted the largest cannabis consumer study in the country of nearly 20,000 users. According to CBD exec, the findings of the consumer study concluded that Black women were nearly 15% more likely to report using cannabis in the last month than any other group, but there are few cannabis brands owned by Black women. Moreover, when turning our attention to CBD, Black women were the least likely to have tried CBD — 11% less likely.

"For that type of gap, I think that shows an issue with representation and access to education, and just market confusion as it relates to the spectrum of possibilities with CBD," says Dillon. "Cannabis is one of the most medicinal plants that we have available to us."

Here, we spoke to CBD brand founders and execs, working across beauty and wellness, to explain why the cannabinoid is at the center of their products, and why more Black people should be using it.

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Nia Imani

Founder of Imania Beauty

How did you discover the benefits of cannabis within natural haircare?

I've been natural all my life. I discovered the benefits of hemp from actually utilizing the herb to relieve stress and anxiety. As my interest grew, I realized that hemp is so powerful beyond smoking or ingesting, and how CBD can bring relief to inflammation externally and internally, relax and calm the body, and improve your overall mood in a "non-intoxicating" way.  

What are the benefits of CBD and cannabis-infused hair products, specifically for Black people?

Primarily, it can soothe and relieve inflammation and itchiness on the scalp as a benefit in haircare and scalp care. This was especially important to me when considering that Black women and men are more likely to experience dandruff and other scalp ailments than our counterparts. The medicated products targeted to us typically leaves our hair and scalp dry, stripped, and irritated.  

How will CBD assist with the growth, hydration, and health of our hair? 

CBD is rich in fatty acids  that helps lock in moisture on our tresses and is also packed with gamma linoleic acid that fortifies and stimulates healthy hair growth.

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Tai Beauchamp, Malaika Kebede, and Nia Jones

Co-Founders of Brown Girl Jane

What sparked your interest in the CBD space?

Kebede, co-founder and CEO: After spending most of my professional career ripping and running without giving much thought to my own wellness, I was confronted with a need for tangible solutions after experiencing burnout and a spinal injury. In my research, I discovered the power and versatility of CBD and other cannabinoids. After introducing the plant to my family and friends, I realized the wellness industry was ignoring a key market: women of color, who are disproportionately affected by issues such as anxiety and depression. 

What are the benefits of CBD and cannabis-infused beauty and wellness products, specifically for Black people?

Beauchamp, co-founder and chief brand officer: Like other lauded, yet more extensively studied beauty and wellness ingredients like vitamin C and vitamin D, CBD is unbelievably effective when ingested as well as used topically. It works well to soothe and alleviate inflamed skin caused by acne, eczema, psoriasis, scalp irritation, hyperpigmentation — all conditions that people of color suffer and in some cases disproportionately to our white counterparts. The same goes for the benefits of ingesting CBD. As an anti-inflammatory, it supports not only our endocannabinoid system, but can affect the health and productivity of our circulatory, nervous, and other systems as well. 

Why is it so important for Black women to be involved in the cannabis industry?

Jones, co-founder and chief impact officer: The increase of Black women entering the cannabis space has been extremely gratifying to see.  More than ever, Black women are entering the cannabis industry — which is vital because it is no secret how the over-criminalization of the plant has devastated the Black community. By taking ownership within the industry, there is a real opportunity to diversify and bring substantial change to an area that historically has unfairly targeted Black families and kept us from equally accessing the health benefits of the plant.

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Michele Harrington

Head of Strategic Partnerships at Foria Wellness

What are the benefits of CBD and cannabis-infused sexual wellness products, specifically for Black folks? 

Having CBD in our sexual wellness products helps promote balance in our bodies and our minds. Many women struggle with dryness and painful sex for numerous reasons. With six years of feedback and customer testimonies that Foria has gained coming into the game in 2014, it just reveals that adding CBD to lube has helped ease pain upon penetration, allowing muscles to relax for increased blood flow, helping you fully enjoy sex — solo or with a partner. There's so many cannabinoid receptors in the reproductive organs and in our pelvic floor alone. We're just wired for all of that extra goodness. Adding CBD helps facilitate our body's natural lubrication, helping you achieve those intense orgasms.

Why is it important for Black women to be involved in the cannabis industry?

I'm just so passionate about helping educate women on what exactly CBD is and how this plant-based formula is so beneficial to our health. I think that knowledge is such a powerful tool for change. The best thing we can do as a company is to continuously educate people on CBD use. As long as we continue to do that, this market has a trajectory of reaching $123 billion by 2027.

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