Nina Parks was working as a music video producer in 2014 when her brother was arrested and sentenced to a year at New York City’s Rikers Island for marijuana possession. He was on the verge of launching a cannabis delivery service in the Bay Area at the time. “All the paperwork was put in,” Parks said. “He had branded it and gotten all the packaging, the promo stuff, the clothing.” Parks, a Filipino American with botanical tattoos twisting down her left arm, had spent much of her career working with formerly incarcerated youth. When she spoke to her brother in jail, he sounded dispirited, worried that he’d be shut out of his own company or pushed into the black market. “It was imperative that I find avenues to advocate for him,” Parks said. She decided to take over the company and today is the CEO of Mirage Medicinal, a delivery service based in her native San Francisco.
She’s also a founder of Supernova Women, a group created to ensure that there’s room for women of color in legal marijuana, which is arguably the country’s fastest growing industry. Supernova began last year after Parks met a dispensary executive named Amber Senter at an industry conference in San Francisco. “I was looking around the room, and it was all just imported white men in suits,” Parks, 32, said. “Amber was the only other person of color in the room. She was over there rolling up some weed, and I’m like, ‘Yo, me too!’” Senter had recently moved to Oakland to access medical marijuana for her lupus; she’d spent years growing her own in Georgia, and after moving to the Bay Area, she took a position as chief operating officer of Magnolia, an Oakland dispensary. The two quickly bonded, and a few months later they sat down at a kitchen table with a lawyer friend to found Supernova, which now offers cannabis business workshops and advocates for policies supporting minorities, women, and ex-offenders.