Woman Run and Minority Owned Dispensary, Police & Thieves, Focuses On Family First

Woman Run and Minority Owned Dispensary, Police & Thieves, Focuses On Family First

Presenting our numero uno, CEO and minority owner Marissa Cortes. As well as Chief of Operations and Sales, the segunda a cargo, Mercedes Woods.

CultureSeptember 06, 2022

Here at Police & Thieves, we’ve come to regularly use the word “fam” in our group text. As in “Remember fam, the rooster’s crow comes after the sun.” Whether an endearing colloquial tag or a behavioral tick in our chain of language, the word “fam” has become ubiquitous. In part because co-owners and partners, Kelsy Yates and David Tomas Martinez, are indeed a family IRL, but also because the first and second hire at PØT were themselves family people. Whether it be a resulting factor of these hirings or a precedent of a dedicated ethos, family is layered throughout Police & Thieves. 

Presenting our numero uno, CEO and minority owner Marissa Cortes. As well as Chief of Operations and Sales, the segunda a cargo, Mercedes Woods.


Marissa and Mercedes, what attracted you to marijuana as a career, and how did you two meet?

Marissa: I got into the marijuana industry almost 10 years ago, moving from Philly to Denver. The medicinal and therapeutic possibilities intrigued me. I started my career working in a large grow facility in Denver, and over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work within various license types across the United States and internationally. I’ve been in cannabis since the inception of recreational use in the USA, and it has been amazing to witness its growth. When I met Mercedes, her attributes were obvious, not only in how she navigated the marijuana industry but also in how she approached personal relationships. Beyond professional life, it’s been wonderful to watch our sons grow up together, also as best friends.

Mercedes: After graduating from Miami University of Ohio in 2015 I moved to Colorado for the cannabis industry, where I started as a "budtender." Carrying student debt and having moved to a new city where I didn’t know anyone, I realized quickly that to make this career work I’d need to learn everything I could. Fortunately, I received a promotion to assistant manager. Then I reached higher-level positions shortly after that. Before starting with Police & Thieves I worked for an international cannabis consulting firm, and this is where I met Marissa. Obviously, at the time, I didn't know I was meeting my best friend and future business partner. Marissa was pregnant with her son at the time, and I had just had my son six months prior. We connected over becoming new moms, our similar experience within the cannabis industry, and I could tell we had the same work ethic and outlook. Now we get to work together on a dream. 


Could you elaborate on your experiences of being women and mothers in the marijuana industry? 

Marissa: Being a woman in this industry, in any industry really, can be tough. Women, and especially mothers, are at a disadvantage when it comes to the workforce. Studies suggest mothers are more than 6x less likely to be recommended for hire, and they’re also less likely to receive promotions than their childless colleagues. But since becoming a mother myself, I have experienced how motherhood has improved many of my skill sets. Mothers get shit done. That’s not to say it’s always easy creating “balance” between my family and my career. Some days are harder than others. But damn, it is so worth it.

Mercedes: After I leave work, what I call the “second shift” starts with my son from dinner to playtime to bath time and bedtime. Sometimes it may look like I have it all together at work and have accomplished my to-do list for the week. However, other areas of my life likely may be behind, like the laundry piling up or forgetting until the morning that my son has an egg drop experiment that needs throwing together. In short, if one area of my life seems like I am succeeding, it is almost guaranteed that other areas are falling behind, though I wouldn’t change a single thing. Being a mother has made me stronger, more understanding, and a balance of softness and fierceness. It has forced me to be quicker and more accurate with my decision-making for the business because I don’t have an infinite amount of time. It’s very unfortunate how motherhood gets devalued. 


Lastly, please tell us something about the other that we don’t know. 

Marissa: Something you might not know about Mercedes is that she’s an incredible cook. It’s not just that she’s great at cooking and baking but that she also considers the scientific aspect of food. She’s also a bona fide foodie, so going out to lunch or dinner with her is a treat because her list of recommendations is long.

Mercedes: Something most people don’t know about Marissa is that she is neurodivergent with having both ADHD and OCD. I have never seen her use either of these diagnoses as excuses. It has been awe-inspiring to watch her growth professionally and personally over the past three years.