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  • Writer's pictureJoy Nickens

The Rise of Black Women Entrepreneurs in the Marijuana Business: The Story of Moe Weed 2

April 20, 2024




Breaking Barriers: The Inspiring Story of Miss Brittany Bennett and 'Momma Moe'

An Inspiring Interview with the relaunched Echo reporter, Ms. Joy Nickens.


Click to see the live interview.




I sat down with Miss Brittany Bennett and “Momma Moe,” co-owners of the Moe’s Museum and Wellness, aka “Moe Weed 2,” located in Trenton, NJ. When asked about their origin story, Brittany shared how the founder, Moe Sutton, executed his vision after opening up the first Moe Weed location on January 1, 2021, also in Trenton:


He saw how there was really a need for Black and Brown people in the Legal market. So, we started off in the Legacy market and fought for our rights to sell cannabis legally. And then with this second store, our Museum of Wellness, we really wanted to focus on the educational and medicinal aspects of cannabis that a lot of people are really focused on…which cannabinoids get you the highest with how much THC…’I want the highest-level THC,’ but they're not really focused on what medicinal effects they're also getting from the plant. So we really wanted to highlight that yes, this is fun and recreational, but it's also, you know, sacred knowledge and additionally. It's been used medicinally for thousands of years. Just recently, we've seen recreational use of cannabis within the past, probably 100 years.”


Within the last couple of years across America, we have seen a transformation of various states supporting legalizing certain usage of marijuana, including New Jersey back in 2020, and even signing legislation to decriminalize possession a year later on February 22, 2021. However, that does not in any means ensure that the battles are over.



"Moe Weed 2" Brittany Bennett

“From the start of our business, I could say we've been fighting the system. When we first opened up, we actually were the victims of police brutality and discrimination of our store. Unfortunately, it ended with our founder's arrest and many legal troubles. And that's the kind of fight that we've seen in general. At our second store, it's a lot of people that put this stigma on cannabis. But they don't really go to ask, ‘Hey. Maybe this person is just selling CBD because not everything is weed. Or not everything is illegal cannabis, so I think there's a lot of miscommunication and miseducation between the law and the police systems. They don't really understand what cannabis is, so it just makes our jobs and our lives harder as operators to be within the right to sell what we know we can legally sell but then fight a system that doesn't know the first thing about cannabis.


She continued: “And then once we get past just the initial police brutality and initial racism and discrimination, we get into grittier tactics of manipulation like ‘we're gonna increase their rent,’ ‘We're gonna charge so much in rent that they can't open their business because they don't have the funds to,’ so we see a lot of tactics like that where it's not direct discrimination, but they do play little games that try to keep certain people out of the industry…”


Hearing this, I referenced the C.R.E.A.M.M Act (the law that authorizes the Cannabis Regulatory Commission to expand and further develop the current Medicinal Cannabis Program, as well as develop, regulate, and enforce the rules and activities associated with recreational cannabis for adults 21 years or older) and Brittany explained how even that act is more misguided than originally thought:


It's not translating into real-world experience, in my opinion. I would say, in terms of all of that, I think it's the laws in New Jersey. They're good in theory, but I don't think the right steps in implementing them and putting them into practice were ever taken, so it's kind of like they made the laws, and they're just like, ‘Hey, follow these laws.’ They don't give you a pathway to actually operate within these laws in a way where instead of it being like: ‘You do something bad, and they come after you,’ it's more like they should have it where it's like ‘Hey, we're all new to this, we're all trying to figure it out, let's work together and really not make it feel like we're demonizing people, but just that we're really giving them a way to go from the Legacy Market to the bigger market.”

       



‘Legacy’ means those who were in the business of distribution prior to legalizations made into law. Marijuana has had a long-standing reputation in the Black community through music, films, family, and friends on both sides of the fence, either being something helpful or harmful. I was initially introduced to it through friends, however I have taken it more into consideration after my decade-plus journey with Multiple Sclerosis and how CBD and certain strains of cannabis have been proven to assist with various pains and ailments. I’ve even gone as far as finally registering for the Medical Marijuana card for New Jersey and wanted to know Brittany’s thoughts on that as well:


“So we do actually have a company that we work with when people have questions about medical cards, we push them that way. We don't really focus on that aspect. You don't need a medical card shop here. It's all recreational so anybody can come to our store. 


She continued: “I feel like there's a lot of misinformation with the medical cards like they're great in theory, but there's also a lot of restrictions that are placed on the patient in general, and that's also a conversation. I feel like this needs to be discussed within the New Jersey legislature. You cannot own a gun if you have a medical card in New Jersey. You cannot have a gun, and you cannot get a gun license, just things like that where it really hinders your right as a citizen in ways that you might not be aware of when you're signing up for the card because they don't really tell you that stuff until afterward and that kind of gets into like, ‘Why can't I have a gun?’ To kind of say, ‘Oh, drug addicts are crazy. You don't need a gun.’ That's really what it is. And it's like, people are out there drinking alcohol every day, and nobody ever questions it. So it's really part of that underlying stigma of cannabis; even though we're seeing strides, it's still a long way to go.”


At the time of this interview, we were in the middle of Black History Month, and Brittany educated me further with a lesson that I wish I had learned in school: 


“It all starts from, I don't wanna say everything comes back to slavery, but we are in Black History Month. The slaves picked cotton and hemp, and that hemp was used by the slave ships to sail back and forth from Africa to America. And then it even got to the point where I don't know if you have ever heard of Eli Whitney. He's the cotton gin inventor. So, hemp was actually the number one material used at the time. And then he actually created that device and then he created cannabis propaganda and hemp propaganda because he was having direct competition with the hemp farmers and the cotton farmers. So, he wanted to eliminate the industry. So that's actually how the demonization of cannabis actually started back because of slavery and cotton picking...and I think that's the conversation people don't really focus on when they say the cannabis industry was literally built on the backs of black people. Like people aren't just thinking about the legacy operators that, you know, went to jail for us to have the right to be able to sell cannabis legally, but we're not thinking about the people who are literally picking the hemp that didn't have rights as citizens, that weren't living by any means at how we're living today. I think those days would definitely be highlighted because that's an unsung story in this industry that nobody ever focuses on.”


Now that we know where a lot of the destructive and misguided publicity stemmed from, I wanted to dive more into Brittany’s educational background as she has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and is currently working towards a master's degree in Ayurveda Medicine at Hampton University. To break down the words originated from the Sanskrit  ‘Ayur’ meaning ‘life,’ and Veda, meaning ‘science,’ Brittany gives more insight as to why it is so important for all ages to understand the intricate ways that our bodies function:


“It's the ancient Indian healing system that focuses on Mind, Body, Spirit, and Connection, along with integrating your consciousness into everyday life to help your growth and development as a person. We really believe in diet, exercise, and herbal supplementation, and we do not really focus on the pharmaceutical aspect of drugs to heal but on more natural modalities that we can work in preventative ways but not reactively. So, we're looking to stop the problems before they occur.


We're looking to increase your health before you have to go to the hospital or have to go to the doctor. So, it's all about prevention and wellness. And I think that's where the ayurveda, cannabis, and CBD kind of come in and work together because we could take this ancient knowledge that we've known about. We can also take cannabis, which is known about, but now that it's becoming legal, we're actually able to do the scientific research and studies that we need to do because we all know the effects of Cannabis, but unless we have a scientific study that actually says we prove it, technically, you can't make claims without proof to back it up. So now that we're having all these legalization and studies and researchers really focusing on cannabis, we could really, you know, increase the healing that we're getting from this plant.” 

Knowing this knowledge is incredibly powerful, especially understanding where medical usage of cannabis only took into effect in New Jersey on former Governor Jon Conzine’s last day in office back on January 18, 2010. Fourteen years since then, we have been able to understand even more about the ways that cannabis can be used besides recreational and only for dire medical situations. 


Brittany goes on further to explain:


One thing I try to touch on is that a cannabis plant actually contains over a hundred cannabinoids within the plant. So, most people know about THC and CBD, but people aren't aware that there are other molecules such as HHC, THCP, and THCA; they're all cannabinoids that do different things within the body. So we're focused on the THC and CBD aspect, but we're missing a whole level of feeling that we could be getting if we actually look into these other cannabinoids. So that's kind of what we're trying to do. Also, basically increasing awareness of these cannabinoids and letting people know like, ‘Hey, we have 120 options for dealing; let's help you find yours. What works for your body? What works for you? What are you trying to feel like? Because not all weeds do the same thing. A lot of people don't think about breaking down the weed and really figuring out what do I want. You come into our store, you tell us you want to feel this, that and that. We could say, ‘Well, have you heard THCP? Have you heard of THCO? Well, if you haven't, this cannabinoid is known to do this, and maybe it can help you in this way because it'll be better tailored to the effects that you're actually looking for.”


Speaking of going into their store, I wanted to know more about the patrons who frequently support them and what that means to these wonderful ladies:



“I would say our community is our biggest supporter. Most of our customers live within a 5 to 10-mile radius of the store. Some people even walk to the store, and I think that's kind of one of our core values as a company is to really be there for the community that we are serving because, at the end of the day, yes, we're in the cannabis industry so you know there is money being made, but if you're making this money and not directly putting it back into the community that you go to every day that you serve, it's not really worth it.”


So we really focus on Community Service, we try to do at least, I would say 6 initiatives per year. We do a lot of stuff for the kids. We try to do "Back to School Backpack Drives" and "Food Drives and really help out in any way we can. It's almost like the small things you do have a bigger impact. We had a food bank not too long ago, so we had a spot where people needed food, baby items, and any personal care/hygiene products. They could come to our store and shop for free and take anything they needed with them because we just wanted to create a hub and community where people know it's a safe space, a space of love, and a space of acceptance. So, Moe Weed as a brand, that's how we treat everybody in a community service-wise way, which is our customers in general. When you're coming to our store, you're coming to a place where people want to educate you, have fun, have good vibes, and really heal everybody.”


With that being said, I asked how we can support the immense efforts that they are doing are further pushed beyond the neighborhood and through the state:



We're located in Trenton, New Jersey, 234 E State Street. We also have an online store through our website. We're also on Instagram at Moe Wellness CBD. That's where we are mostly interactive. We post a lot of educational content, ‘meme' type videos, and products that we sell, so I think that's the main way you can support us. Also, just stopping by the store to come say, “What’s Up?” Not everybody smokes weed, we sell other items in here too. We sell t-shirts and hats and ashtrays and a lot of fun stuff, so you can definitely become part of the Moe Weed Family without consuming cannabis at all.”



Please check out and support this wonderful Black women-owned venture for education and relaxation located in central Jersey. Yes, I said it because it does exist, and Moe Weed 2 will welcome you with open arms!
















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