Highlighting Hispanic Heritage Month - 8 Cannabis Businesses and Professionals To Watch Right Now

Highlighting Hispanic Heritage Month - 8 Cannabis Businesses and Professionals To Watch Right Now

By Lisa Marie 

What do Captcha codes, beauty blender sponges, and submarines have in common? These insightful innovations were all created by Hispanic people. 

National Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place annually in the U.S. from September 15th through October 15th, is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions made by people with roots in Spain, Central and South America, Mexico, and countries in the Caribbean.

At a time when some are trying to rewrite or even erase American history, especially events related to people of color, you know Raquel’s Room won’t miss the chance to shine a light on the stellar accomplishments of Hispanic folks. Read on to learn more about the trails being blazed by Hispanic people in the cannabis industry today.

Hispanic Professionals in the Cannabis Industry

Jessica F. Gonzalez

When it comes to young professionals in the cannabis industry, few shine brighter than Jessica Gonzalez. Born in Ecuador, Gonzalez’s journey to becoming an essential figure in the cannabis legalization movement in New Jersey has been one filled with challenges and changes. As the first person in her family to graduate from college and graduate school, Gonzalez seized the opportunity and earned her law degree. Gonzalez is also a member of a unique group– only 2 percent of lawyers practicing in the U.S. are Latina.   

In 2017, the cannabis legalization movement in New Jersey began to gain serious momentum. That’s when Gonzalez shifted her focus to providing guidance and support to people who have been stifled by outdated laws created during the “War on Drugs” era.  

Currently, Jessica Gonzalez is working with her consulting firm, Veridis Quo LLC, to make and launch the Cannabis Training Academy. This program, which is part of the New Jersey Business Action Center, will offer free webinars and virtual outreach to prospective cannabis business owners. In addition to her work in NJ, Jessica Gonzalez has also been an integral part of promoting social equity in the cannabis space in several other states. 

To show your support and find out how to advance cannabis legalization efforts, follow @jessfgonzalez on Instagram.

Daniela Vergara, PhD

Known for her outstanding contributions as a speaker, educator, and advocate, Dr. Daniela Vergara is a true cannabis science pioneer. Vergara’s path to becoming a cannabis scientist may have been forged in her DNA, as she credits her father, a physics professor, as one of her most important mentors.

After studying science at Indiana University Bloomington and Universidad de los Andes, Vergara went on to work for the University of Colorado Boulder. She continues to research, write, mentor, and teach in the areas of hemp and cannabis science. 

With the goal of making cannabis science more accessible to people outside of the academic community, Vergara created the Agricultural Genomics Foundation. Through a partnership with 420 Organics, anyone interested in cannabis science can enroll in online courses. They even offer a certificate to folks who complete the coursework. These affordable online courses are designed for all types of people.  Whether you’re looking to learn more as a cultivator, as a medical patient, or as someone hoping to break into the business side of cannabis, this innovative coursework offers a great return on a small investment. 

These days, Vergara is working with Cornell University as an Emerging Crops Specialist to provide valuable information to hemp farmers in New York. Vergara is the author of a cannabis production manual designed to help farmers use the latest research data to improve plant growth and quality. 

To stay up to date with Daniela Vergara’s cannabis research, or to see where you can catch her speaking at an event, follow @cannabacana on Instagram.


Hispanic-Owned Cannabis Shops and Lounges

Budega NYC 

Alex Norman has been a mainstay in NY cannabis culture for decades. After navigating through the grueling Giuliani years in New York, Norman has his sights set on bringing the knowledge and understanding he gained from Legacy to the legal cannabis market in NYC. 

Norman, a Cuban American, has infused his respect for rap music and lessons learned in the Legacy cannabis game to build his brand, Budega NYC. Not to be confused with the many imitators and opportunists trying to capitalize off the name Norman created, Budega NYC is THE original cannabis brand paying tribute to the bodega culture of the past. 

Recent data tracks with our motto at Raquel’s Room- New York is the cannabis capital of the world. So who’s better to represent the underground cannabis culture as New York transitions from Legacy to legal than Alex Norman and Budega NYC? 

As NYC continues to move through the slow and murky process of awarding CAURD licenses to prospective business owners, Budega NYC exists in the online space. On the Budega NYC website, Norman provides a wealth of information for the canna-curious to budding business operators. There are detailed guides for folks looking to create or scale a cannabis business without a brick-and-mortar space, as well as information on how to maintain mental and physical wellness.

See what the future holds for the Budega NYC brand by following @BudegaNYC on Instagram

Happy Munkey

“Happy Munkey doesn’t do it for the Klout, We do it for the Kulture.”

That’s the tagline you see when you enter the Happy Munkey site. It encapsulates their brand in one sentence. Vladimir Bautista and Ramon Reyes, friends who met in high school, created the Happy Munkey brand in 2017 to celebrate and normalize New York’s iconic history with cannabis.

When a single speakeasy-style event grew into a nightly gathering of hundreds of cannabis enthusiasts, Bautista and Reyes realized the limitless potential of the Happy Munkey brand. Unfortunately, the lounge events ended when COVID-19 hit. But Happy Munkey was able to pivot and adapt to the changing times by offering merchandise, a podcast, and a YouTube channel.

After the pandemic restrictions were lifted, Bautista and Reyes shifted their focus back to in-person community-building events. Capitalizing on the business sense Bautista gained in the NY Legacy space as a teen, he planned to create a dispensary to represent and amplify the voices of smaller cannabis industry professionals. 

As one of the first CAURD recipients in NYC, Happy Munkey will be the antithesis of the MSO dispensaries in NY. Their goal is to provide high-quality products at a price point accessible to all, particularly those most impacted during the War on Drugs era.

As Happy Munkey waits out the legal situation that has put the Grand Opening of its dispensary on hold, supporters can still access the Happy Munkey brand on their website. Happy Munkey’s “tribe” can also be found representing the community at networking events such as NECANN and at their 710 Soiree held in NYC’s Museum of Sex.

For up-to-the-moment details on Happy Munkey’s Dispensary Grand Opening, follow them on Instagram @happymunkey_

Hemp Lab NYC

In 2018, Stephanie Diaz and Manos Lupassakis wanted to bring their West Coast experiences with cultivation and cannabis science back to NY. That’s when Hemp Lab NYC was created. With locations in Brooklyn’s Bushwick and Greenpoint neighborhoods, Hemp Lab NYC is the first shop in NY to offer hemp-based products in a brick-and-mortar store. 

By offering a wide selection of hemp products ranging from topicals and tinctures to unique items like CBD beard oil and honey, Hemp Lab NYC focuses on the healing properties of hemp. Based on the stellar reviews on their website, it’s easy to see that Hemp Lab NYC will continue to be a valuable resource to the communities they serve for years to come.

Also, the outdoor space at Hemp Lab NYC allows community members to consume in a relaxing, safe, and inclusive environment. At Hemp Lab NYC, they offer plenty of opportunities for cannabis enthusiasts to attend workshops and events, most of which are free. From their Smoke N Swap meetups to collaborations with The People's Garden, Hemp Lab NYC’s commitment to community growth and uplift is evident. 

For the latest info on upcoming events and in-store inventory, follow @hemplab_nyc on Instagram. 


The inspiring story behind Conbud represents redemption and representation. Not just for the many black and brown folks who have been casualties of the failed War on Drugs, but for anyone who believes in the power of second chances.

Coss Marte, one of the founding members of ConBud, has been involved in the culture since he was a young teen with a dream to live a better life. In 2009, Marte was apprehended and served 7 years in prison. While in prison, Marte spent his time focusing on his own health and fitness. After losing 70 pounds using bodyweight exercises, Marte parlayed that knowledge to create a legitimate business. 

When he was released from jail, Coss Marte created ConBody– a fitness program that was taught by people who were formerly incarcerated. ConBody proved to be a success, which led Marte to his next venture. But this time, Marte would be able to use his unique skill set and life experience to make the leap from legacy to the legal cannabis space in New York.

ConBud will be the first legal cannabis dispensary owned and operated in New York by formerly incarcerated people. While others may offer sound bites and pipe dreams for the future, Coss Marte is an actual agent of change. But the plan for ConBud isn’t just about creating jobs; it’s also about breaking the cycle of incarceration and keeping people out of the system for good. No employee of ConBody has ever returned to prison, so the expectation for ConBud is the same.

Although the brick-and-mortar shop in Manhattan has not opened yet, supporters can still shop for clothing and sign up for their newsletter at the ConBud website

Be sure to follow @ConBud and @ConBody on Instagram for news about the store’s Grand Opening, hiring events, and ways to support other businesses looking to secure CAURD licenses in NY. 

Latina-Owned Cannabis Lifestyle Brands

Rollin Rosa Co

Vanessa Cardenas and Victoria Ruiz are the creators of Rollin Rosa, a cannabis lifestyle company based in Chicago. Cardenas and Ruiz aimed to claim a space for women and people of color in the cannabis accessories space for people largely ignored or overlooked by mainstream cannabis companies. 

After both women had achieved success in other business ventures, they pooled their talent and creativity to create a cannabis lifestyle brand for women, by women. Cardenas and Ruiz wanted to rewrite the narrative to show that cannabis consumers (particularly those identifying as women) are productive, successful, and strong enough to create social change.

Rollin Rosa offers functional and beautiful rolling trays, organic pre-roll cones, and apparel with Latina women and cannamoms in mind. Their motto, “Embrace La Rosa Within You,” represents the balance between femininity and strength their loyal fans have embraced since the company started in 2022. 

Check out @rollinrosaco on Instagram for details on community events and new product releases.

House of Puff

New Jersey native Kristina Lopez Adduci founded her brand, House Of Puff in 2018, after an uninspiring trip to the headshops of NYC’s East Village. Aducci noticed that the cannabis accessories available were not aesthetically pleasing and definitely not female-friendly. With that, Aducci decided to link up with artists and creators to start House Of Puff– a cannabis lifestyle brand that offers higher-end, multipurpose products with a focus on weaving cannabis consumption into everyday life.

Along with the main House of Puff site, Kristina Adduci has curated a blog as well as a Youtube channel dedicated to all things cannabis. From videos on how to make homemade edibles, to posts about throwing a chic, cannabis-themed housewarming party, Adduci’s House of Puff brand offers fresh takes and new ideas for anyone interested in the finer things in canna life.

But House of Puff is about much more than beautifully crafted smoking accessories and creating luxurious cannabis experiences. Kristina Adduci is using her place in the cannabis space for advocacy and advancement of marginalized groups. The Lower Eastside Girls Club, Women's Prison Association, and Solitary Watch are just a few of the organizations supported by House of Puff. 

Want to stay current on the latest high-end cannabis trends, events, and product drops? Subscribe to her blog and YouTube channel and follow @thehouseofpuff on Instagram.


While the shift toward legal cannabis is definitely the progress we want to see in the cannabis space, we can not forget the reason why legalization is possible. Without years of hard work and inroads made by Hispanic Americans, the legal cannabis market, particularly in New York, would still be only a distant dream. 

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, be active in the legalization efforts near you. Make an effort to support small Hispanic-owned cannabis businesses instead of an MSO. Like and share a social media post for free, or spend a few dollars to buy a product from an online business. 

Do whatever you can to honor those who risked everything so the rest of us can reap the rewards.

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