Bay Area’s Dope Advocate
Andrea Unsworth is the Founder of StashTwist, a woman–operated, cannabis delivery collective in the Bay Area. Andrea’s vocalization efforts and publications are moving the cannabis industry forward. DOPE Magazine caught up with her to discuss 2017 and next steps in moving the cannabis industry forward.
What is the dopest part of your job?
The dopest part of my job is my community. It is being able to run a business based on real relationships. I know all of my people on a first name basis. Cannabis has an abundance of opportunities and it’s amazing to bring people together in a professional setting.
What is it like to be a woman owned and operated small business in the cannabis industry?
First and foremost being a woman owned business creates a safe space for other female businesses. We attract a lot of women vendors, women who grow small batches and who don’t have relationship with large dispensers. Having a welcoming educated vibe attracts the mothers and aunts, women healers, who understand marijuana is medicine.
“The dopest part of my job is my community.”
What is it like to be a black woman owned and operated small business in the cannabis industry?
Gender and race intersect in cannabis in so many ways. Women of color are left behind when their men are locked up on drug charges. They are often medicating in shame and in fear of losing their children. Women, especially women of color, are protectors of plants and have spent a lot of years holding it together. Mirage Medical Delivery is a great example of this. Started by a sister of a man who wanted to work in the cannabis industry but was locked up on drug charges, she‘s building what he was unable to.
As a business owner I am not only providing medicine but job opportunities. One of the first people I hired was my father who worked the night shift as a security guard. Now I don’t worry about his safety and he is helping himself as an owner in our collective.
What types of advocacy have you pursued in the cannabis industry?
Inclusion has to come bottom up. There is a robust industry of people of color who have no incentive to come out of the dark. It is still very scary to participate in the democratic process when you are admitting that you sell federally illegal drugs.
Are we really getting to the core of helping people who were locked up on cannabis charges? I want people who are felons working for me. Funds specifically need to be appropriated to helping folks who have been convicted, not just for reparations, but to help them write a business plan.
What are you excited about?
Seeing 25-26 year–olds starting brands. There are such a variety of brands and events, creative things that people are able to do to build their business. It’s such a new space and we’ve started to change the stoner image. We’re not half–assed businesses with no business plan or accountant. It’s so awesome to see what people can do with zero support and zero funding and neighbors that hate you and yet you can build a beautiful brand and community.
Any shoutouts to advocates who are also doing dope work?
SuperNova, which is built around creating a safe space for women and people of color. Oakdeck folks for creating equity in cannabis, bringing it to the forefront and advocating for policy. Alex Zavell is a young twenty–something who does so much policy work. Alex works for Robert Raich, the biggest lawyer in cannabis, but he still finds time to be at every single city council meeting.
California has legalized cannabis, but the conversation is far from over. What areas are important to keep in mind as we move forward?
It is now more important than ever for the cannabis community to come together. The goals for 2017 should be focused on patient education, stakeholder involvement at the local level and insuring that opportunities in the cannabis industry are equitable and serve the intention of reversing the damage of the War on Drugs.
In California, we have to protect and educate our 18-21year–old youth, protect and expand patients rights under Prop 215 alongside the recreational market and work hard to ensure that cannabis remains a low priority for law enforcement as exemplified by the City of Oakland.