As adult-use cannabis sales have fully opened up across the state, the stage has been set and conversations are in full swing to ensure the future of cannabis in our communities is one rooted in not only a love and respect for the plant, but in diversity and inclusivity. A voice at the front of this landmark in time is Bridgett Hart, the newly appointed Arizona Director for Minorities for Medical Marijuana and the CEO of Mantis Careers, both of which are dedicated to bringing social equity to fruition here in the Arizona cannabis industry.
In celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we had the opportunity to chat with Bridgett and feature her as one of the women working hard to ensure equality will grow here in the valley, along with inspiring women to be leaders in an industry that until recently they did not have a strong presence. Even over the phone her love, passion, and energy can be felt on such an infectious level that you can’t help but feel inspired to get more involved.
So good to connect with you Bridgett, we are going to start out with a fun ice breaker – What’s your current favorite way(s) to medicate?
Right now I have been utilizing concentrates more, especially my pens, to microdose throughout the day to help keep me balanced. I also love Dutchies, with two of my favorites being Green Crack for daytime focus and getting work done, along with Oracle for a nice creative boost.
For those people who are new to the community, can you give us a brief timeline of your cannabis journey?
Sure! I began my journey in a dispensary back in 2013 and met Chelsea Mulligan, who I quickly connected with and we shared our knowledge with each other so that we could both learn and grow in our roles. Soon after I had become pregnant with my daughter, and the industry stress was weighing on me, so I decided it was time to take a step back. I stayed heavily involved in the cannabis community both as a patient and advocate, always striving to learn more. Seeing other inspirational women like Marvina Thomas come into the space was part of my drive to get back into the industry to be a voice for the minorities, for the people incarcerated, and to support the industry in a positive way. As one of the founders of Mantis Careers I have had the opportunity to work on building diversity by finding the best of the best and helping to find them not just for the individual’s needs, but for the needs of the business as well. Diversity is an asset and brings more to the table when it’s real and fully inclusive. Recently, I have been named the Arizona Director of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, which will be another way I will be supporting social equity here in Arizona – helping to ensure that diversity is alive and well and the whole pie is not just going to corporate cannabis companies. While these companies have made profits off of the industry, there are legacy members that are suffering in jail for consumption; as they are released many of them have nothing. The time is now to give back to them and those that were true pioneers in the industry from the beginning, that have had their lives disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. You can learn more and help support the cause on our website http://equityfirstaz.org/
I love that you have so much passion and are a voice for social equity not just here in Arizona but nationwide as well. Do you have any people that are your inspiration for what you do other than the patients and minorities that you advocate for?
As my daughter got older, racism hit home for me even more and she was the main inspiration for me to get back into the industry and fight for social equity. Once that hit home, I worked hard to learn as much as I could so that I could be part of the change to make things better for the new generation that my daughter is a part of. Watching Roz McCarthy, from Minorities for Medical Marijuana, advocate and grow inspired me and I have learned so much from not just my time working with her, but also by watching the beautiful journey that she has had in this space fighting for diversity and equality across the board.
What are you most excited for right now in the industry?
Right now we are hopeful that there will be a good outcome for SB1121 and for the growth of social equity in this space. It is definitely an exciting time to be a part of a movement this powerful.
What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the cannabis industry?
I would say, know what you want and what your goals are. From there, formulate a real plan of action on how you will achieve it. Then, work hard and go out and get it.
I love that advice. Now for two of my favorite fun questions – who would you smoke with dead or alive and who is your favorite person to smoke with?
Hmmmm that’s a good one, I would have to say Madame Vice President Kamala Harris would be my pick for someone to smoke with because the stories and inspiration that would be in that conversation would be something truly special. My husband is my favorite person to smoke with. We just celebrated 10 years of marriage and people always ask us how we are always so happy and we joke that the secret to a happy marriage is cannabis. In reality, it is something that I believe has made our marriage stronger, opened up more communication and allows us to take the time to balance ourselves in hard times, as well as connect more deeply emotionally and mentally as a couple.
Such a beautiful note to leave it on – it’s always wonderful to hear how cannabis can bring people together. Thank you so much for your time today, inspiring our community, and giving a voice to all.