The green rush has swept up many entrepreneurs looking to break into the budding cannabis industry for a slice of its rising billion-dollar price tag. But if they want dollar signs somewhere other than in their eyes, Marvina Thomas says it’s going to take some hard work.
“Is there money to be made?” she said. “Yes, there is, but you’re sure gonna bust your butt and work for it.”
Thomas recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of her line of THC and CBD topicals called 420 Skincare.
To her, success comes from more than a desire to make money; it comes from having a reason to succeed. Her reason is helping people.
Half of Thomas’s revenue from 420 Skincare goes back to her recovery home, Start Living, where she helps homeless men and women kick alcohol and opioid addictions and get their lives back on track. She helps patients get their medical cards.
Before she opened Start Living, Thomas had spent years as a nurse. She could never fully comprehend how much medication was prescribed to her patients.
“In the nursing field, I felt like I was that person prescribing these pills to the patient,” she said. “One day I just said, ‘You know what, I can’t do this anymore.’”
She’s trying to use her recovery home to change that. Most of her patients come in for prescriptions to treat conditions like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic pain. She uses some of the money from 420 Skincare to help them access the state’s medical-marijuana system, allowing them treat their symptoms with cannabis and cut down on the dozens of prescription drugs each they may use.
Running the recovery home isn’t cheap, so she learned how to create and market soap, lotions, and other skincare products to support her other business.
She helped one patient in particular whose face had been damaged from an accident using drugs. Thomas’s soap helped heal the skin, but using it caused the patient a lot of pain.
“And that’s when the cannabis came around,” she said.
As a black woman, Thomas represents the opportunity for women and people of color to break into the industry.
Someone must lead the way to show it’s possible, and Thomas is more than willing.
“I think that’s what’s going on now that they see me out at the forefront,” she said. “This is the time.”
As the regional leader for a national group called WomenGROW, Thomas helps organize meetings in Phoenix to “educate and motivate” women new to the medical cannabis industry. She recently spoke about diversity at one of the group's meetings in Denver.
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She's overseeing the group's July 10 meeting, which focuses on sports and cannabis.
“The people that are kinda curious, that’s the place to go so you can learn something,” she said.
Through her work in addiction, entrepreneurship and cannabis Thomas helps foster the tenacity needed to succeed. She said she leads not only by example, but by lending a hand to those around her.
“Everybody has a book,” she says, “and only you know the last chapter.”