Cindy De La Vega, in her own words, has “been through a lot of things.” A victim of domestic violence, a witness to shootings, but also a mother of two daughters and decades-long community activist with United Playaz, she has seen the good with the bad.
Now, she’s the first Latina dispensary owner in San Francisco. On Oct. 9, De La Vega opened STIIIZY Union Square, where she serves as CEO and a part owner alongside Shryne Group, which oversees the STIIIZY brand.
“I want people to know that when you purchase from my location, it’s not just purchasing for a company,” De La Vega tells Cannabis Dispensary. “We’re putting back into the community, and we’re doing this for equity, really.”
In 2018, De La Vega, a Latina, first applied to be a social-equity dispensary owner through the San Francisco Equity Program. The process to become verified as an equity applicant, obtain a license and permit, and become a 40% owner in STIIIZY Union Square was a long one. (Shryne Group’s employees are 51% Latinx, and it several women serve in company leadership, according to a press release.)
“You need to find your location, you have to have finances—and someone like me, where I come from, I don’t come from money,” says De La Vega, who grew up in housing projects in San Francisco’s Sunnydale neighborhood. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own because you have to secure the location once you put in your application.”
San Francisco is currently only processing cannabis business applications from “Equity Applicants,” “Equity Incubators,” former medical operators and certain businesses that are already verified with the city’s Office of Cannabis. De La Vega was the 11th social-equity applicant to receive a permit from the city. In this climate, she says