PRINCE GEORGE'S CO., Md. - At just 26-years-old, Hope Wiseman's resume looks a little different than those of most women her age.
From winning Miss D.C. in 2009, to attending Spelman college, cheerleading for the Atlanta Falcons, starring in an E! reality show, WAGS, and putting her economics degree to work on Wall Street, Wiseman is now starting her career as the nation's youngest black cannabis dispensary owner right in Prince George's County.
"I believe every experience that I had has been perfectly crafted to bring me to where I am now," she says. "I came back home to do this because I knew how important the cannabis industry would be economically, medically. These are real patients that have real issues and they need true relief."
Born and raised in Bowie, Wiseman teamed up with her mom, Dr. Octavia Simkins-Wiseman, a dentist, and Dr. Larry Bryant, a D.C.-based oral surgeon.
After extensive networking in the industry, they submitted an application in 2015. A year later, they were awarded a dispensary license in District 25, Capitol Heights.
Through mostly-self finance, the trio started construction in what used to be a furniture outlet, for the dispensary "Mary & Main."
"It really models a true retail environment," says Wiseman. "We wanted it to be a place where the community could feel safe and welcome."
Just like the 101 other approved dispensaries across the state since the law passed in Maryland in 2014, if a patient's doctor recommends medical cannabis as a treatment option for a qualifying medical condition, he or she will have to register with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission before they can visit Mary & Main.
Those qualifying conditions include severe pain, nausea, seizures, and PTSD.
I hope I’m able bring relief to patients who truly need it, that’s the number one thing," says Wiseman.
Currently, edible marijuana products are not allowed in the state of Maryland. However, dispensaries like Mary & Main will offer a number of other products.
They already have vape, wax, and lemonade products in stock.
Many of them do not contain THC, the psychoactive part of marijuana that gives people a high, or they have very little traces.
"I think that education is very important because people need to understand there are so many ways you can take this medicine, you don’t have to smoke it, and you don’t have to vape it," Wiseman says.
She says she expects the first year of business to focus a lot on education as the medical marijuana conversation has always been a controversial topic.
"This is a true medical facility it’s not recreational," she says.
Wiseman's focus is the African American community in Prince George's County.
The ACLU reported back in 2013 that a black person is more than three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana use than a white person, even though they use marijuana at similar rates.
"Even a recreational user is really self-medicating, they may not understand why they’re doing it, but they are," says Wiseman. "So many people want to learn about it, but they’re afraid because of the stigma it holds, so I want to help alleviate that."
Wiseman hopes that Mary & Main changes her patients' lives for the better, but she also hopes to send a strong message about turning a dream into a reality.
"I hope that I’m blazing a trail behind me so that other people can come do the same, other people who look like me and who have had family members negatively impacted by this, I hope that happens."
For more information on Mary & Main, visit their website.