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Cheryl Shuman likes to be called "the Martha Stewart of marijuana."
After all, Martha Stewart used her namesake to create a home-building media empire, becoming the first female self-made billionaire in the United States, at least on paper. And Shuman, a California entrepreneur, hopes to do the same ... only with cannabis.
Though California law permits use of medicinal marijuana, Shuman told CNBC on Monday she still felt ashamed while using it to ease the pains of her cancer. Along the way, she learned that many of her friends, including high-net-worth individuals from circles of influence, felt the same about marijuana use.
In turn, she founded the "Beverly Hills Cannabis Club" to change public perception about marijuana and open the door for legalization.
"There are a lot of celebrities and high-profile people who don't want to be assigned to that negative image, so as a branding and PR expert, I decided to rebrand the face of the modern cannabis consumer [and] make it as what we are today, which is a mixture of cannabis culture and celebrity culture," she told "Squawk Alley. " "There's no doubt in my mind that cannabis is now mainstream."
Shuman's efforts have gained some traction, too. She recently graced the cover of AdWeek and KUSH magazines. Shuman's tireless promotion helped her to transform $150,000 in seed capital in 2009 into $6.5 million in revenue in less than 18 months, AdWeek reports. Now she's on a nationwide tour to drum up additional investment in the marijuana industry and otherwise push for legalization.
"There are a lot of millionaires and billionaires out there that actually consume cannabis that have the money that want to finance things like the super PAC that we're working on because they strongly want to influence the political climate on legitimacy so that they don't have to worry about going to prison and losing their millions of dollars by being a cannabis consumer in an illegal state," she said.
—By CNBC's Drew Sandholm