As a NorCal resident, my knowledge of the state’s southern cannabis market is limited to its vast size and the complexity of its regulation (or lack thereof). So, a few months ago, I jumped at the chance to profile SoCal’s hottest marijuana maven – Bonita “Bo” Money.
Money is both the founder of Women Abuv Ground, a networking organization dedicated to introducing the cannabis business to women of color, and the creator of That Glass Jar™, a cannabis-infused cream specifically designed for treating Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA.
Coming off 20 years in the entertainment industry – including a career foreshadowing stint with Dr. Dre during The Chronic years – Money entered cannabis after seeing medical markets spread and Colorado legalized.
She immediately saw the huge void for people of color in the industry. The need for accessible resources and tailored education, especially for women of color, was paramount to including the communities most ravaged by Prohibition in the wealth generation of legalization.
Money has already become a force for cannabis equity since founding Women Abuv Ground in 2015, most notably for persuading the Southeast Cannabis Conference + Expo to produce a diversity panel and for spearheading the successful boycott against Roger Stone at Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo (CWCBE).
“At first, the conference told me diversity wasn’t an important enough topic but would like me to coordinate some NFL panels,” Money said. “I told the organizers, ‘If I’m not actually going to be affected by what I’m doing, then I can’t come speak for you guys.’”
They listened. And, lucky for them because it ended up being one of the top five attended and discussed programs of the conference. In addition to the panel, Money negotiated a $15,000 allotment of tickets to distribute to the community.
“A lot of aspiring entrepreneurs and fans of mine can’t afford to come see me because of the barriers facing people of color,” she said. “I’m lucky to be in a place where I can break down some of those barriers for other members of my community.”
To get an idea of just some of the people who make up her community, check out #LetsBudTogether. The hashtag was initially part of a joint campaign between Money and Montell Williams for the diversity campaign, “Embrace diversity, spread change and let’s bud together.” More recently, the phrase has come to signify the growing community around Bonita “Bo” Money.
With recent launches in Phoenix and Las Vegas, that community includes 11 Women Abuv Ground chapters across the Netherlands, Spain and the United States. This burgeoning cannabis empire got its start with the “herbal cannabis-infused cream that cures MRSA,” That Glass Jar™.
“I never wanted to go into [making] a product,” Money said. “But, a girlfriend of mine got diagnosed with MRSA and I was immediately running down Rodeo Drive at 2am to get home and starts researching things about MRSA.”
She found a couple antibiotic extracts through her research and, having worked with topicals before, quickly infused those critical oils with cannabis, so it could get into her friend’s blood. Within weeks of beginning use, her friend’s skin began to heal and cured upon further application.
“Doctors had told her she’d need reconstructive surgery but the cream started rejuvenating the skin naturally,” she said. “I knew we had something.”
Money has a good instinct for hits. As part of her educational outreach around cannabis, she has a cannabis lifestyle reality show in the works that she hopes will shed a light on the plant some regions may not be aware of.
“I want to expose different markets to things that will help them process the stigma against cannabis,” she said. “We want to promote the healing aspect above all else. We’re still working out the kinks because we want this project on mainstream TV. America is ready.”
With everything Money has in the works, “marijuana mogul” may be more appropriate for this maven.