Today we’d like to introduce you to Leona Thomas.
Leona, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
While I wasn’t a heavy consumer of cannabis early in life, I definitely saw the effects: especially the disproportionate arrests and sentencing of Black men and women.
In 2016, my husband and I began to research the holistic properties in the cannabis plant as a way to treat certain ailments in our communities and limit the use and need for many pharmaceutical drugs. We also started paying attention to the growing cannabis industry and realized that not only were there not a lot of black people profiting off a business that historically has been used to condemn our communities, but they’re also weren’t a lot of women in the industry as well. A Black woman cannabis licensee??? I only knew of a few; I literally could count them on one hand. This was an industry we had to be a part of for many reasons. Mainly we wanted to develop a way to merge technology and cannabis & continue research into the cannabis plant as a holistic treatment but we also wanted to destigmatize its use and educate our communities on ways they can also be involved in the industry.
In 2017, ReLeaf Health was launched. Our initial focus was on wholesale but we soon decided to move into the retail space and in 2019, we opened our first retail location at 3213 NE MLK Jr. Blvd in Portland, Oregon.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road has not been easy as securing the licenses, the space and all our products; requires capital. Capital that many institutions are not offering to Black cannabis owners let’s be honest; black entrepreneurs in general. At the time of this interview, we are still completely self-funded.
Funding/lending has been our biggest hurdle. We also found it difficult to find a POS system that met all of the needs of our business at the time and future state. To which we solved by creating our own POS system, Emisha, which helps us manage inventory, sales, and so much more. In every area where challenges were faced, we’ve done our very best to overcome. We create the spaces we need in order to help further our mission. Our parents have been the best support system we could ask for.
ReLeaf Health – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
ReLeaf Health is a licensed cannabis company. We offer wholesale, retail and delivery services. We sell both high THC (what most think of when they say cannabis) as well as some full-spectrum hemp CBD options. In our retail, we pride ourselves on carrying products that many other dispensaries don’t. We can do that by developing relationships with many of the small craft growers in the state. Supporting and working with small businesses is VERY important to us.
I’m most proud that we have been able to steadily increase our business while remaining true to ourselves. We didn’t start out with an Apple store looking dispensary (no shade to those that do), but with the basics, so we could invest in quality staff and products. With time we’ve been able to create a space that not only we love but our customers do too! We are the only company to have our own homegrown POS system in their dispensary. I can’t express enough how proud I am of that accomplishment. Merging the two worlds is so important to us.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me is doing what I love while impacting others in a positive way. Of course, I would love to make money doing it but as long as I am able to provide for my family, I want to always be a part of inspiring and encouraging others to live their dreams; no matter how far fetched they may seem to others.
Not everyone believed in our cannabis business. If I’m being honest, there were many times I questioned it myself when I just looked at the gravity of entering the business but I knew this was something I was passionate about. Its not just about “selling weed” it’s about breaking down the stigmas and creating a lane that many other black people can enter along with us. There is enough for everybody but we have to make sure that the black community can benefit from this industry, specifically. I love that we provide premium products at affordable prices, now THAT is a success!
I also have a separate brand apart from the cannabis business, Unapologetically Living with Trese, where I am able to inspire and impact others through blogging & podcasting. Again, success is doing what you love. However you need to do it to bring love & light to the world.
- Address: 3213 NE MLK Jr. Blvd
Portland, OR 97212
- Website: https://www.releafhealth.green
- Phone: 971-255-1447
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @releafhealthcannabis
- Facebook: @releafhealth