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Sensi

Queen of the Desert

Nov 27, 2018 05:19PM ● By Debbie Hall
Beauty, brains, and business are the je ne sais quoi of Priscilla Vilchis, the youngest woman and first-ever minority (Latina) female CEO in Nevada and California to be awarded licenses to cultivate and produce medical and recreational cannabis with the soon-to-be-launched Queen of the Desert cannabis brand. What she’s doing in the industry is turning heads.

As the CEO of flagship cannabis company Premium Produce, Vilchis is a self-made business magnate ready to expand nationally. Vilchis’ moniker, “Queen of the Desert,” refers to maneuvering through the wilderness of the cannabis terrain alongside her revolutionary team.

Vilchis, who originally planned to own and operate a hospital, was groomed by her mother, a pioneer in the healthcare industry, to pursue both healthcare and business development.

She attended Pepperdine University, but one year and three months before she would have earned her degree, she took a leap of faith and decided to leave Pepperdine and start a business. “I made my parents a promise that I will complete my degree, and I plan on keeping it,” she says, “but the decision I made at this stage of my life was the best one for me.”

Through her business, Vilchis grew and managed multi-million dollar enterprises for some of Southern California’s top physicians, helping them navigate regulations within the healthcare industry. By age 21, she was a power player, but the shadow of the opioid epidemic colored her perception of healthcare. “Physicians are licensed and trained in medical school to alleviate the pain. What I learned during this time was that in a span of 30 to 60 days, these patients that were in such pain started to become addicted to the opioids they were being prescribed,” she explains. As her personal breaking point approached, Vilchis decided to delve into the medical cannabis industry. People called her crazy for leaving her profitable endeavors for this new and uncharted territory. “Now I am called a genius—go figure,” she explains with an infectious laugh. “I told my lawyer I wanted to invest in cannabis and to find me the most lucrative, business-oriented state.”

WELCOME TO VEGAS

When her attorney told her that Nevada had adopted cannabis as an actual business, Vilchis showed up in Vegas ready to build her company—and soon got a rude awakening. The vigorous, extensive vetting process and criteria to get a license was a hindrance, but she persevered. As the cannabis industry, still in its infancy, navigated its way through the legislative process, she was asked about her marital status, the number of cars she owned, and any property in her name. Vilchis had to demonstrate she had the capital to purchase the property she was planning to buy and separate capital for the build-out. Because banks could not invest, independent funding had to be provided.

A proud Mexican-American raised in California, Vilchis is the oldest of four children with roots in Jalisco, Guadalajara, a region known for tequila, mariachi music, and Mexico City. She is both boss and mentor to her sister Christine, who is the controller at her company, as well as an inspiration to her 16-year-old sister and 6-year-old brother.

“I come from a very conservative Catholic background, and our parents told us if we ever touched drugs, including cannabis, we would instantly die,” she says. “My mother chuckles about it now because she forgot what she said.”

Vilchis is a passionate advocate for community outreach and cannabis education, and she strives to end the outdated stigma surrounding cannabis. One of her long-term goals is getting medical marijuana reimbursable by insurance carriers.

“Always deliver on what you say,” is Vilchis’s motto. “The second you don’t deliver is the second you allow doubt to be placed on you. Maintain your confidence.”