Susie Plascencia is a tour de force in the cannabis world, making a full career's worth of moves by the age of 30. She's starred as the stoner vixen in a B-Real video, called out cultural appropriation in cannabis on the front page of the LA Times, and — most recently — co-founded Mota Glass, the first minority-owned glass brand with an emphasis on supporting local glass blowers and minorities in cannabis. But Plascencia's journey to the top of pot began unexpectedly.
“I've been a cannabis user for many years, but because of the stigma it was something that was hidden in my life,” she told Weedmaps. “With me being a Latina, you know, growing up in a very, very Mexican household, there's a lot of stigma surrounding cannabis within the culture … I was always the good girl growing up. I didn't think that I could exist in both worlds.”
After studying PR and marketing at USC, Plascencia began working at an LA-based agency with celebrity clients. “I wasn't even trying to get into cannabis,” she said. “I didn't think it was even possible at the time. I just wanted to do the corporate thing so badly because I thought it was what I wanted.”
It wasn't until she began working with talk show host and cannabis advocate Montel Williams, that she began to connect the dots, fusing her passions into a future.
“One of our clients was Montel Williams. Montel is a celebrity, but he's also a cannabis consumer because he battles MS,” she said. “So I started dipping into doing cannabis work through PR work [since] we were doing a lot on Montel and his use of cannabis.”
While her work with Montel was the initial spark of her interest in cannabis, the match was really lit on the set of a B-Real video. At the time, Plascencia, the youngest publicist at the firm, was asked to help put together a video for a client — she ended up getting that client into a video with an all-star lineup.
“I don't know how I did it, but I did it,” she said. “At the shoot, they ended up needing a girl to be in it, so I ended up being in the music video smoking a joint. At the time, it was so scary for me because I was keeping my two worlds separate. But at that music video shoot in 2014, everything happened at once, like it was meant to be.”
Pursuing new opportunities in cannabis
Flashforward to today: 31-year-old Plascencia has pivoted her sights to glass. Co-founded by her and her partner Bobby Lady in November of 2020, Mota Glass is a minority and veteran-owned bong brand that was started with the intent of addressing two main issues in the industry: the mass importing of glass from overseas devaluing local artisans, and exploitation of the minority workforce.
Plascencia first became interested in the glass industry while working with her partner for a well-known glass brand. It was there she began to discover the shady — and illegal — dealings that go on.
“It's against regulations to import bongs from overseas because it's technically paraphernalia,” she explained. “So what these companies will do is import glass, then just say it's American-made so they don't have problems at the borders. But what does that do? It creates confusion for consumers and unfair competition for American glass blowers … So what we started seeing is a huge need to support local glassblowers, many of whom are minorities whose careers have been destroyed over the past decade due to mass glass importing.”
Not only does Mota Glass support these marginalized groups by providing work creating bongs, they also take it a step further by offering secure and stable jobs, living wages, and upward-moving career pathways.
“The creation of Mota Glass came from a need,” said Plascencia. “A need to support local glass blowers who need consistent work so that their jobs aren't destroyed, and a need to support minority employees who aren't getting livable wages or career pathways. Because it's not just about getting a paycheck. It's about where this job is going. Where do you want to go with it? We want to provide that.”
Mota Glass also includes an eponymous equity branch that stands for Minorities for Opportunity, Transparency and Accountability (MOTA) in cannabis, which was founded on the heels of the La Chingona Boycott. Launched by Plascencia, the boycott exposed the shameless appropriation of Mexican culture by white-owned cannabrand La Chingona. The movement landed her on the cover of the LA Times in September of 2020.
“There was a cannabis company that lied to the community and said that they were Latino-owned when they were really owned by mostly white men,” said Plascencia. “They reached out to me to try and work with me. I had a lot of questions, then they tried to buy me out, so we launched a boycott.”
She continued, “that situation ended up getting us on the front page of the LA times because of what we did for the community. And it's great to see that the people brought this brand down. It made us see the importance of creating a more equitable space, as well as a more honest, transparent, and accountable space in this industry.”
Here are four cannabis brands Susie Plascencia can't live without.
Blunt Babe Hemp Purveyor
Blunt Babe Hemp Purveyor is a Latina-owned, small business out of Southern Texas specializing in CBD flower and Delta-8 products. “What's great about them, aside from being a Latino-owned business, is that they make Mexican candies, but infused.”
She continued, “I have been seeing so many companies start coming out with Mexican candy because Latinos are finally in the spotlight. They just saw the stats from the Selena movie, and only care now that we've got money. I like how she [owner Ana Gabriela Bazaldua] knows our culture because it's her culture, and she's making edibles that are authentic.”
The Botanical Joint
The Botanical Joint is a boutique hemp farm in Fresno, California, owned by Sue Surabian, a third generation Latina farmer. “It's a really hip farm in Northern California,” said Plascencia. “All their products are amazing, especially their pre-rolls.”
Xula Herbs is a Latinx and Black-owned CBD brand out of Mexico City that specializes in products that help support mood, menstrual cycles, and promote better sleep. “They have been getting a lot of support from the community … I support them a lot because, aside from being a Latinx and Black-owned brand, they're just really, really awesome people that have been doing a lot for minorities in cannabis.”
Miss Perry Farms
Miss Perry Farms is a woman-owned and operated hemp farm in upstate NY specializing in CBD and CBG flower. "While I have yet to meet owner Maria Perry in person, we're Instagram buddies and support one another's businesses," said Plascencia. "I love being able to connect and support other women in this industry, whether they're local or on the other side of the country."
Featured image courtesy of Susie Plascencia. Graphic by David Lozada/Weedmaps