Breaking the News to Mom and Dad: I’m Selling Weed (Legally)

Manndie Tingler kept her secret from her parents, certain they would disapprove. And while most Americans have come around, she knew her mom and dad would still consider it “a horrible thing.”She eventually tired of hiding her affairs, so she began bringing up tidbits to “gauge their warmth.” Finally, Ms. Tingler told them: She was helping to build a marijuana start-up.Her mother’s response was curt: “So, are you going to get arrested?”Parents, at book clubs or block parties, love sharing news of their children’s success. But making joints is a far cry from making partner.Mom and Dad may abhor marijuana. They may fear their child will go to jail or be robbed in this cash-heavy marketplace, which is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government. And, of course, they may just be disappointed.While legalization has thrown open the doors to entrepreneurs, women and minorities still face the typical biases and roadblocks when it comes to getting their ideas funded, and efforts to make recreational cannabis legal have stalled in states like New York and New Jersey. Lawmakers are struggling with how to right some of the wrongs from the war on drugs, which disproportionately targeted minorities, but consensus has been difficult.Even so, there’s no shortage of cannabis entrepreneurs. Most of the $8.5 billion industry has sprung up in recent years in the 33 states, plus Washington, D.C., that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. That’s about the size of the American yogurt market.There are about 6,200 companies that “touch the plant,” said Matt Karnes, a cannabis industry analyst and founder of GreenWave Advisors. He estimates that a typical company has 40 employees.Ms. Tingler’s parents were not only worried, but ashamed. “My parents are very conservative Christians, and they worried their church friends would think they raised a ‘pothead,’” she said.Before she decided to hang her cannabis shingle, Ms. Tingler, of Roseville, Calif., had run a nonprofit and worked in child and family counseling. “That was a noble job,” she said. “This one was edgy.”Last year, Ms. Tingler helped found Khemia, a company that packages marijuana for sale and rolls it into joints. She is building a facility to make cannabis-infused topical lotions, edibles and concentrated marijuana.Acceptance has been gradual over the last five years. Ms. Tingler’s mother, Teri Moulton, has arthritis, and Ms. Tingler slowly introduced her to salves that have low levels of THC, the active compound in marijuana, for help with her pain without making her feel high. Now, Ms. Tingler said, her mother leaves these topicals out on the kitchen counter, “even though friends from church might see it.”In fact, Ms. Tingler speaks to some of her mother’s friends on the topic, she said, and has become something of a “senior cannabis whisperer” in the last year, giving talks on how marijuana can ease some common complaints that come with age.“It’s not a cannabis-friendly com


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