From Guatemalan and Scottish descent, but a Brooklyn native, Adriana Ruiz Carlile has worked in the cannabis industry throughout California and Oregon for over five years. In April 2017, she and her partner Will Perry quit their jobs to pursue the possibility of opening their own cannabis facility.
Her first contact with cannabis was working night shifts at a friend’s medical dispensary in California, with the hopes of someday having her own business in the recreational space. Despite her desire, unclear Californian regulations and multiple entry barriers made it almost impossible for small entrepreneurs to join the state’s legal recreational space.
That’s when she and Will moved to Portland and got a license. There, Magic Hour Cannabis was born. Their cannabis is grown indoors in a clean greenhouse, where they produce cannabis that is entirely pesticide-free and full of flavorful terpenes. From their premium flower to their innovative pre-roll packs, you can trust that you’re getting the highest quality cannabis products available.
Today, Magic Hour Cannabis is a boutique indoor grow with one of the nation’s only women-owned cannabis farms. Their long-term plans have as much to do with industry domination as shifting the industrial landscape to provide opportunities to Black and Indigenous Women.
We spoke with Adriana about her journey in this industry and her plans to bring more women participation in the cannabis national space.
Tell us about yourself and your journey with cannabis?
I started consuming cannabis when I was 17. Over the past 14 years, I’ve gone from feeling negatively judged for my consumption, moving to the West Coast to pursue a career in the industry to now being a CEO and voice to help end the stigma and educate and empower others on what this plant really is- and that’s medicine.
Now that society has come around to actually looking at the science behind the plant and not the propaganda, it’s been enthralling to learn about the endocannabinoid system, terpenes, and all the complex ways our bodies respond to cannabis, only grew my passion and curiosity for the plant and wanted to be a pioneer in this new untapped industry.
Long story short, I’ve always been a bit of a serial entrepreneur, so it only made sense to combine my passion for the plant and my dream of running my own business and dive headfirst into this ever-expanding and dynamic industry. If other people were throwing themselves into the industry without a playbook to follow and succeeding, I thought I might as well give it a shot!
What makes you passionate about being a CEO/Founder in the cannabis industry?
I saw so much potential in the burgeoning industry and knew it would be the biggest regret of my life if I didn’t take a leap of faith and do everything I could to be a part of it. From the science behind the plant and how it interacts with our endocannabinoid system to the financial opportunities, I knew I had to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in history.
Being a CEO/Founder in the cannabis industry allows me to help set the tone and educate others on what this ‘drug’ really is – which is a PLANT, as opposed to a schedule 1 narcotic with no medicinal value. Cannabis has an enormous amount of healing properties and so much untapped potential for industrial and nutritional use.
I want to end the stigma associated with cannabis consumption and be a leading example of how cannabis can be used to enhance and not hurt your life.
How does it feel being a BIPoC womxn founder in a predominantly male-led space?
I feel a sense of responsibility for being a BIPoc womxn founder in a predominantly male-led industry. Growing up in such a diverse city as New York, I have always been surrounded by powerful people of color and successful women.
To be honest, it was a huge shock to move to Oregon and realize just how few BIPOC and Women founders there were in the State and in the industry at large. I know what I’m capable of, so it’s important to extend the same opportunities to others who look like me so that there is equity in the industry at every level.
I know that change happens on a small scale and it’s energizing to know that I can help change the industry from the inside out by hiring and training as many Women and People of Color as I can. I would be lying if I said I never felt out of place, more often than not being surrounded almost entirely by men, but it’s my duty to pay it forward to the next generation of leaders just as other women have done for me to get to this point.
Where do you see the industry going in the next few years especially with the potential federal decriminalization?
To be honest, the industry could go in a bunch of different ways, it’s so hard to tell. Releasing and expunging records for those with cannabis-related convictions should absolutely be a priority.
Given that we will be recovering from this pandemic for years to come, with millions of people unemployed, while cannabis sales are booming, I think it would be a missed opportunity for states not to legalize and even start competing in the international markets.
What lessons have you learned from working in the industry thus far?
This industry is not for the faint of heart. The cannabis industry tends to be glamorized in many ways but unless you’re really in the thick of things, you have no idea how much the landscape is constantly changing and how much work really goes into being a successful cannabis company.
One thing I would say is crucial to succeeding in this industry is to be a good problem solver. There’s no rule book for navigating a brand new industry that is considered essential in one state, and a federal crime in another, so you have to be able to pivot frequently and get creative.
Imagine trying to run a business without proper banking, traditional lenders, or third-party payment processors, even though what you’re doing is 100% legal. It’s not easy.
Who inspired you to become the founder that you are now?
All the powerful women I surround myself with. From my mother to my friends, to other leaders in the industry. I’m incredibly grateful to have people rooting for me and mentoring me along the way. As a founder and entrepreneur, you have to bet on yourself every day – it’s other ambitious and successful women close to me that keep me inspired enough to do so.
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