Do I Qualify?

Make an Appointment

Content Hub


Find a Dispensary Read Articles


Applying for your medical marijuana card is easier than ever. Just book an appointment. Talk to a doctor. And get your card. Bing. Bam. Boom.

Marijuana Doctors

Get your medical marijuana card

Cannabis Consultation

One on one with a cannabis coach

Patient Login

Sign in to your Veriheal patient account


Baiyina Abdas Talks Veriheal History, Black Leadership in Cannabis

Kymberly Drapcho

by Kymberly Drapcho

February 26, 2024 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 9 Minutes
Fact checked by Emily Mullins
Baiyina Abdas Talks Veriheal History, Black Leadership in Cannabis

Baiyina Abdas never thought she’d be working in the cannabis industry. 

Abdas originally went to school for non-profit management and, for a while, nuclear engineering. She wanted to use this education to help those living in encampments to harvest their own energy and live independently. 

Now, she is the Vice President of Patient Care at Veriheal, the largest facilitator of medical marijuana cards in the United States. As such, Abdas is still in the business of helping others live dignified lives. 

In her position, she brings together compassionate medical cannabis practitioners with patients in need. She also oversees those patients’ experiences with Veriheal, maintaining executive responsibility over the company’s patient care department. 

While Abdas had planned to make a difference through other means, when her childhood friend Joshua Green came to her with an opportunity to help make cannabis more accessible, Abdas describes her decision to pivot as a “no-brainer.”  

And in deciding to pivot, Abdas sent herself down a career path that altered the course of her own life – and made significant waves in the cannabis industry.

baiyina abdas
Baiyina Abdas, Vice President of Patient Care at Veriheal

When Green approached Abdas, he – alongside his partner Samuel Adetunji – was in the process of developing a business that would forever change the medical marijuana landscape. Green and Adetunji envisioned a world where patients of all demographics could access medical cannabis easily and with dignity. 

As such, they developed a forward-thinking platform – originally called MetroXMD – where medical cannabis patients from across the country could consult with certified cannabis doctors and get approval for medical cannabis in their area. 

Now operating under the name Veriheal, Adetunji and Green’s platform is the blueprint for a number of other medical marijuana card distributors. However, at the time of the company’s conception, Green and Adetunji were innovators in the cannabis space. 

Plus, as Black business owners in the cannabis and tech spaces, Adetunjii and Green were unicorns in an industry highly impacted by racial discrimination and stigma.

Realizing they needed someone to head their customer service and doctor relations, the pair turned to Abdas for her emotional intelligence and her warm and well-spoken nature. However, recognizing the stigma that surrounded their industry, Green was careful to approach the topic delicately. 

“We were just talking about it over a glass of wine, which I think is when some of the best business plans are made – when you’re with buddies just having drinks and talking,” Abdas explained. “He told me about this really meaningful work that he and his friend were doing to help patients access ‘alternative medicines.’ I think he was feeling me out because we both grew up in a sheltered type of mindset.”

baiyina abdas veriheal history
The Early Veirheal Team (left) Adetunji and Green

But while Abdas described her and Green’s upbringing as existing within a “sheltered mindset,” their experience is not as unique as perhaps she’s insinuating. 

The stigma against cannabis exists at a global level. The United States, in particular, has a long history of anti-cannabis legislation and attitudes that began long before the Nixon administration orchestrated an official war on drugs – and still persist today. 

Black Americans are especially impacted by these persistent stereotypes. Not only are they often the subject of a large quantity of anti-cannabis propaganda, but they are also statistically more likely to be incarcerated for cannabis-related felonies, despite similar use statistics across all other ethnicities. 

Though this is a reality that Abdas is not ignorant of, the underrepresentation of Black individuals in the cannabis field is unsettling nevertheless. 

“It’s strange to me that an industry that disproportionately affects Black people didn’t also disproportionately advantage them when it became legitimate,” Abdas shared. 

“I would assume that because Black people are most incarcerated behind marijuana offenses and said to be the highest group of users, then when marijuana became legal, why didn’t the landscape look like a bunch of Black people, who the media told us were the experts?” 

So, just as the war on drugs did not begin with Nixon, it did not end with him either – a reality that Abdas, Green, and Adetunji are intimately familiar with. Throughout the history of the company, the founders experienced discrimination at all levels – including bureaucratic delays, financial restrictions, predatory investors, and social skepticism. 

Why You Should Get Your Medical Marijuana Card

Veriheal has satisfied millions of patients nationwide by giving them access to these benefits

  • Larger purchase limits
  • Peace of mind
  • Enhanced legal protection
  • Access to higher potency strains
  • Save up to 25% on cannabis purchases
  • Skip the line at the dispensary

“Even to this day, people make jokes like ‘Oh, you sell weed,’ and I always have to combat it,” said Abdas. “No, we’re revolutionizing the way that people engage in a dignified experience with cannabis – that’s what we’re doing, and that’s what we’ve been doing from the jump.”

Nevertheless, despite these systemic challenges, Veriheal rose to quick success. The company innovated in the medical cannabis space like no other company had done before – all in an effort to make the medical marijuana card process easier and more dignified.

“I felt like I was pioneering something. It also felt like we were reclaiming something that had been taken from us historically,” said Abdas.

Abdas and friends
Abdas with Veriheal co-workers, 2023

Ultimately, despite the company’s success, Abdas is something of an anomaly in the field. Black individuals – and Black women even more so – are severely underrepresented in cannabis – as well as healthcare and technology. Overall, Black cannabis professionals make up no more than 2% of business owners in the industry. 

As such, Veriheal’s founding members had to develop an ironclad attitude toward success. As Abdas recalls, it was their resilience that made the work the company was doing feel all the more important. In an industry where they’re used to being told “no,” Green and Adetunji are accustomed to getting up, brushing themselves off, and persevering. 

“The way they would show true human emotion and then pivot responsibly and healthily to ‘all right, we’re gonna get it back,’ made me feel even more like the work we’re doing was really important,” Abdas shared.

It was that passion that not only fostered resilience among Veriheal’s founding members but also deeply embedded it within the company’s culture moving forward. 

“I really think they were teaching me to be resilient in business,” Abdas shared. “Being a Black business owner, but also being a Black business owner in tech and in cannabis, the odds are stacked against you. So to just have that much resilience and joy and gratitude and creativity and innovation…I never saw them lose that spark.”

As a Black woman working at the intersection of cannabis, healthcare, and tech, Abdas regularly confronts bias in her line of work. As such, she finds herself summoning that resilience perhaps more often than she’d like. 

“Someone might use a term, and they’ll turn to me and explain it. And I don’t need an explanation, but that’s just their assumption because they’re not used to my level of intelligence or work ethic,” Abdas shared. “So, at least at the beginning, I initially felt like I had to work harder to look intelligent or professional.” 

Despite navigating a landscape flush with microaggressions and discrimination, Abdas is happy to challenge norms. 

“I think it’s interesting when people are pleasantly surprised by how smart I am or my title. Because it’s like, why wouldn’t you think a Black woman can exist in an area where you think only your typical idea of a brilliant person can exist?” Abdas explained. “I enjoy being that kind of anomaly to people. I like those experiences where, in realtime, those holy cows are being kicked over.”

baiyina abdas

And while these challenges may excite Abdas, she wasn’t always as comfortable as she is now after years of experience in the field. Instead, it was consistently showing up authentically that helped give her the confidence and strength to face discrimination head on. 

“I initially felt like I had to work harder or dress a certain way to look intelligent or professional with these people, and I think as success grew, I started to become more confident that I’m a part of this success as me. I show up as me in — in jeans, or sweats, or a sweater,” Adbas shared. 

Being given the opportunity to show up authentically – and finding success through this authenticity – has shown Abdas the value of her own input. Not through forcing others to see her value but through bringing her unique perspective and expertise to the space. 

“In the marijuana space, what I bring to the table is so necessary and valuable. I’ve seen that throughout the life of my tenure here that I actually do add a unique and important piece to the Veriheal culture,” shared Abdas. “I’m valued and respected for that, and it’s because very early on, I made the decision not to be inauthentic, and I made the decision also not to try to force people to see my value.”

By remaining resilient and showing up authentically as herself in an industry that does not favor those who look like her, Adbas is paving a space in the hopes of not remaining an anomaly forever. 

“They’re going to write books about this,” stated Abdas. “There will be Black people who want to be entrepreneurs who will stumble upon Josh and Sam, and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, wow, it is possible, even in the face of opposition.’ And they’ll toggle to the leadership team, and they’ll see someone like me who really shouldn’t be the picture of leadership in this industry.”

Post Your Comments

Maria Ronauli says:

February 27, 2024 at 9:51 am

Let’s go Baiyina!


Get your medical marijuana card today
Sign up in under 5 minutes