Hope Wiseman, Maryland, Cannabis, Mary & Main

Cannabis Entrepreneur Faces Pushback From Maryland Lawmakers And Residents

Maryland lawmakers' push to restrict new cannabis dispensary locations have presented a new obstacle for Mary & Main CEO Hope Wiseman.

Hope Wiseman, a 31-year-old former investment banker, faces resistance from residents and lawmakers in Prince George’s County, Maryland, as she strives to expand her cannabis business, Mary & Main.

After six years in operation, Wiseman is poised to capitalize on the legalization of recreational cannabis use, partner with new licensees, and offer consulting services in an industry she knows can be challenging. However, according to The Washington Post, her efforts have been met with opposition from county lawmakers and residents who are torn over whether new dispensaries should occupy prime retail spaces or be confined to industrial zones, revealing a deeper rift over the potential for cannabis legalization to uplift communities or cause detriment.

Left-of-center County Council members Krystal Oriadha (D-District 7), who is skeptical about the impact of cannabis on Prince Georgians, and Wala Blegay (D-District 6), whose district encompasses Mary & Main, have led the push to restrict new dispensary locations. Blegay supports limiting dispensaries to industrial zones.

“We don’t need to be marginalizing these businesses…The businesses, and the state, and the counties should work together to alleviate all concerns. I feel like we can all win if we work together,” the former Atlanta Falcons cheerleader asserted. She said that the pushback is “not doing anything to be progressive in an industry that could genuinely create wealth for Black people,” noting that many applicants for social equity licenses hail from the county.

Residents of the affluent, predominantly Black suburb have voiced concerns that while they lack desirable amenities like grocery stores, certain neighborhoods are inundated with liquor stores and smoke shops. Other concerns include marijuana odor, impaired driving, and the normalization of cannabis use for children who may encounter stores on their way to school. “There has to be a balance,” Blegay said. “Black businesses have the opportunity to do more than just cannabis. You can bring a restaurant. I’m not stopping you from that.”

With recreational cannabis use now legal in Maryland, Wiseman is actively pursuing efforts to make the industry more accessible for entrepreneurs like herself through collaborations with lawmakers to increase loan and grant opportunities, extending her network of vendors and investors with aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs. The Main & Mary CEO previously discussed the barriers Black women face entering cannabis with BLACK ENTERPRISE. “It’s always going to be a situation where we’re going to have to continue to show our excellence,” she said after questioning why her working operations were insufficient at the time. “That’s how I’ve combatted those obstacles.”

The Spelman College alum launched Mary & Main in 2018 with financial backing from her family and co-founders Octavia S. Wiseman and Larry Bryant. In 2021, she gained national recognition from CBS News as the youngest Black woman dispensary owner in the U.S.

Prince George’s County ranks third in the state, with 10 dispensaries. The county and neighboring Montgomery County are poised to welcome nine additional dispensaries.