Cannaclusive's Mary Pryor on Bringing Women and Communities of Color Into Cannabis

Plus, the pursuit of more mainstream appeal in cannabis marketing

Mary Pryor is co-founder of Cannaclusive, a collective focused on inclusive marketing and business advocacy in the cannabis industry; New York chapter president of Minorities for Medical Marijuana; and chief marketing officer for Tonic CBD and Tricolla Farms. 

She also serves on the board for Possible Plan, a Cura Cannabis social equity effort, and as an advisor and judge for Eaze Momentum Accelerator. She advises three cannabis and non-plant-touching companies: Kanna, Dieux Skin, Flor De Maria Chocolates. 

Mary is also a judge for the 2020 Clio Cannabis Awards.

A proud native Detroiter and graduate of the University of Michigan, Mary spoke with us for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.


Mary, tell us ...

Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.

I am currently the co-founder of Cannaclusive, CMO of Tonic CBD/Tricolla Farms, and an advisor/investor within tech, fitness and social good startups.

Your earliest cannabis memory.

Age 15, during high school time and right after work with a few co-workers in the back of an old Chevy in Detroit, Michigan.

A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.

My health. As a Crohn's disease advocate, I find that this medicine greatly supports health and pain management. People need to speak to that more in this space.

A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.

Favorite cultivar, Durban Poison and Harlequin; edible, Kiva confections; product, The Gift CBD Bath crystals; and brand, Tonic's Chill formula for sleep.

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.

Limited budgets, out-of-touch ideas, and lack of inclusion external and internally when it comes to developing robust campaign work.

One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.

2021 will be interesting. Given all the new rules coming down from the FDA, I want to see who will make it within the CBD space. Marketing wise, I really want to see more mainstream appeal in the space. It still feels very white male leaning or absent of cultural capital.

A cannabis trade/social justice organization you support.

I support a collective I co-founded called Cannabis For Black Lives. We have over 30 brands and growing that are focused on providing support, increasing awareness around equity, and increasing internal representation from BIPOC communities via hiring within their companies.

A recent project you're proud of.

I worked on and co-founded an unrelated cannabis project called FitForUs, an organization dedicated to addressing disparities and racial discrimination within the fitness industry. Our story just dropped via Self magazine for September. I also co-founded a food scarcity and hunger support organization called Breaking Bread NYC with four team members from the cannabis, hemp and restaurant space this year, due to the lack of support for those who are marginalized and hungry in New York City.

Someone else's project you admired recently.

I admire the work of Maggie Connors of Besito. She constantly puts out quality projects with social justice in mind, and it is not an afterthought.

Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.

I admire the work of Gia Morón of Women Grow and Roz McCarthy of Minorities for Medical Marijuana. They are eager to bring women and communities of color into the mix of this business, given the disparities and lack of access due to inclusion faults within this space.

A movie, TV show, music or food you most enjoy pairing with cannabis.

I have to watch I May Destroy You and Lovecraft Country with cannabis because those shows are intense but extremely well done and very timely.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry?

Teaching spin classes, still working in tech, and probably living in London as a way to have quick access to travel across Europe and the continent of Africa.

Higher Calling is our new interview series where we chat with folks in the cannabis industry about their personal history and taste in cannabis and the future of cannabis marketing. For more about Higher Calling, and our Clio Cannabis program, please contact Michael Kauffman.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.

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