Whether it’s opening a dispensary, starting a unique line of strains and products, or infusing cannabis culture into mainstream society in new and unusual ways, we thought it fitting to honor Black History Month by celebrating 20 African American cannabis entrepreneurs who are pioneers in the pot industry. Remember these names, as they’ll likely be making a huge impact within the industry — if they haven’t already.
You don’t often hear the mention of cannabis on talk shows, but Oren Lomena, host of The Graux, mixes in sports, cooking, and weed in an attempt to make cannabis conversations a part of normal life. It helps when your sibling is a correspondent for MSNBC, too. Lomena’s resume of cannabis activity is long, making him an ideal person to take this leap.
Not only does Jesce Horton own and manage a high-end growing operation in Portland, OR, but until recently he also acted as the director of the Minority Cannabis Business Association. The group’s mission is to increase diversity within the industry, yet as his plants at Panacea Valley Gardens began to gain more and more attention, he stepped down from the MCBA to spend more time with his family.
Tsion Sunshine Lencho
A background as an attorney has served Tsion Sunshine Lencho well, as she co-founded Supernova Women in 2015. A networking platform for women of color who are looking to break into the industry, Lencho’s organization offers a variety of workshops and advocates for ex-offenders who are going through the process of rehabilitation.
Snoop has been a cannabis advocate for as long as anyone can remember. You may be familiar with his line of strains. Leafs by Snoop, which is currently involved in a lawsuit with the Toronto Maple Leafs over his logo. He also launched Merry Jane, a digital cannabis resource.
Perhaps one of the most recognizable names in the cannabis industry, Charlo Greene revealed that she was the owner of a cannabis club in Alaska while also quitting her job on the air. She now hosts The Weed Show, an online resource where she shares interesting ways to incorporate marijuana into your daily life. Greene initially faced decades in prison but has since had all charges dropped.
Infusing cannabis into fine cuisine is no small feat, and chef Miguel Trinidad does so with an exceptional level of skill. His underground and invite-only eatery, 99th Floor, features five courses of food that’s simply out of this world. He’s also expanded his cannabis ventures to create a line of edibles found in select California dispensaries.
Business ventures and a passion for art have come together in the cannabis world for Erik Range, Board Chair of Minorities for Medical Marijuana and co-founder of ART 420. Using cannabis-inspired art with a traveling business model, Range can communicate just how normal, and beautiful, cannabis can be for all.
You may recognize Al Harrington from the NBA, but this former player has made a major career change in what many would say is the right direction. Together with Daniel Pettigrew, he’s co-founded Viola Extracts, one of the nation’s top medical marijuana companies. Inspired by his own grandmother Viola’s battle with glaucoma, Harrington works hard to spread the message of just how effective cannabis can be in a pharmaceutical setting.
Dr. Rachel Knox & Dr. Jessica Knox
We know, technically there are two people listed here, but the Knox family includes four doctors, all of whom counsel patients on the uses of medical marijuana from their Oregon-based clinic. The Canna MDs as they’re called take a therapeutic approach to the plant and educate patients about how it can enhance their health and overall well-being.
Aside from her stellar career in Hollywood, Whoopi Goldberg is committed to making waves in another big way – by manufacturing cannabis products designed to help women with their monthly cycle. She’s partnered with Maya Elisabeth, founder of Om Edibles, to supply California and Colorado with soaks, rubs, edibles, and more. Launched in 2016, Whoopi & Maya has since become one of the biggest brands on the market.
Owner of District Growers in Washington DC, Corey takes a community approach to his cannabis cultivation. The team partners with other businesses in the area and provides individuals with ha igh-quality medical product. Pre-rolls, infused teas, and uncommon edibles like granola bars all make up half of their offerings, while others turn to Barnette for expertly grown flower.
Cannabis use is still heavily stigmatized even in urban areas across the United States, but Andrea Unsworth is dedicated to changing that through her collective named StashTwist. A non-profit and woman-operated business in the East Bay of California, their products include topicals, oils, vape pens, and more.
The cannabis industry is still relatively new in the grand scheme of things, and entrepreneurs don’t always know where to begin. That’s where Shanita Penny comes in with her consulting firm Budding Solutions. Based in Baltimore, MD, she offers services that include product development, branding assistance, help with applications, and much more.
Named the 2018 Cannabis Industry Organization of the Year, the group at Minorities for Medical Marijuana have made huge strides thanks to founder and CEO Roz McCarthy. The team offers advocacy, training, and education to communities across the nation. To date, they have 23 chapters in the US and run their operations in Orlando, Florida. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, McCarthy was included in the High Times 100 Most Influential People in the Cannabis Industry during 2018.
To be the first at something is pretty special, and together with business partner Scott Durrah, Wanda James was the first black woman to own a dispensary in Denver, CO. With a name like Simply Pure, the group obviously focuses on high-quality cannabis and creates organic edibles, concentrates, and CBD oils.
Hope may be a part of a hugely popular entertainment television show, WAGS Atlanta, but her talents aren’t limited only to the big screen. She’s also the owner of Mary & Main, a dispensary in Prince George’s County, Maryland. It doesn’t sound that impressive, until you learn that she’s only 25, making her the youngest dispensary owner in the United States.
Khalifa is just one of a dozen celebrities to jump on the cannabis bandwagon as he’s developed his own line of weed in conjunction with RiverRock Cannabis. The Colorado-based dispensary released the line-up on 4/20, and includes flower and concentrates that Khalifa said took years to perfect. It’s rumored that the strains are modeled after effects that the rapper himself prefers.
A one-woman powerhouse in the marijuana world, Adams initially founded Marijuana Investment & Private Retreat and has since moved to C.E. HUTTON, a firm specializing in business strategy for a range of cannabis organizations. She’s deeply ingrained in the industry and with decades of experience is often one of the first people that entrepreneurs will turn to for help.
Business owners don’t always have the time to attend seminars or make appointments with consulting firms, but Comfy Tree is changing that thanks to Tiffany Bowden’s revolutionary ideas. She’s created a series of e-learning courses that are tailored to each individual’s sector, offering valuable information that’s easily accessible.
Elevating the cannabis experience is a huge focus of the industry, as the desire to completely banish typical stoner stereotypes is strong. Through Apothecarry, owner Whitney Beatty offers some of the most luxurious and discrete cannabis products the market has ever seen, encouraging cannabis users to break free from being a “smoker” and instead become a “conscious consumer.”
Cannabis Legalization IS a Civil Rights Issue
Social equity is important to help people of color move on from the racist inquisition of cannabis prohibition. It’s a Civil Rights issue.
Americans have the right to political and social freedom and equality, as guaranteed by the Constitution. But reflecting on how this country was founded, there is no doubt the reason the U.S. is a superpower today is because the colonists and subsequent immigrants who became the industrialists had free labor through ownership of slaves to build their homesteads, ranches, companies and corporations.
The country would never have the infrastructure it does in terms of roads, buildings and power supplies if it was not for slave labor of people of color. This incomprehensible display of racism has attributed to the empires of American families with names like Rockefeller, Forbes, Vanderbilt and Griswold, to name only a few. The freedom of slaves and later the civil rights movement were pivotal moments of liberty for American people of color, who were not given the same rights to political and social freedom and equality that the Constitution guaranteed.
The legalization of cannabis can also create a huge shift in the Civil Rights of Americans.
Cannabis, Civil Rights and Reefer Madness
After the Civil War, the Jim Crow laws enacted racial segregation and the legal principle “separate but equal.” This carried into schooling, transportation and public facilities. Not until 1954, when the landmark decision in Brown vs. Board of Education was handed down, did segregation become unconstitutional. Though it took years to implement the decisions, the Supreme Court continued to hand down rulings against the Jim Crow laws. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were the last laws to help overturn the institutional discrimination.
However, during this period, in 1942, the Japanese Internment took place and people were suspected of committing crimes against the country during WWII solely because of their Japanese ancestry. The abusive move by the American government to substitute race and national origin for evidence is today recognized as shameful and a horrific event in our country’s history. The admission a sign that times are changing.
While laws and policy remove these intolerable acts of American racism on paper, the psychology and education for reform within people is taking longer to change. Decades after the Civil Rights Act was passed, many are still being targeted for the color of their skin, often being stopped at airports, pulled over in traffic and experiencing Constitutional violations of the 4th Amendment, for search and seizure. Official denials and insufficient proof have upheld these behaviors.
Again, in a country not above using skin color as evidence, the prohibition of cannabis in the mid-1930s started a wave of incarceration for people of color who use, grow, or sell marijuana. Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics, made it his mission to seek out jazz musicians who used ‘marihuana.’ His internal memos berated jazz, reading, “It sounded like the jungles in the dead of night.” A different memo cautioned, “Unbelievably ancient indecent rites of the East Indies are resurrected.” And that the lives of jazz players “reek of filth.” He hoped to round up all-black jazz musicians and famously went after singer Billy Holiday for her heroin use — while helping white actress Judy Garland with her “troubled addiction” to heroin and wouldn’t dare arrest her.
“Prohibition was always used to eliminate people from this society and make it harder for them. It was part of the greater effort to continue what our country was unfortunately built on, slavery,” shared Allison Margolin, a Los Angeles-based criminal defense and cannabis attorney who has been heavily involved with California cannabis licensing and criminal drug cases.
Systemic racism leftover from the founders of this country gave way to modern racial profiling by law enforcement and the judiciary courts. The drug war greenlit in the 1980s increased the Jim Crow hysteria for cannabis tenfold, as rogue policy led to training DEA agents to look for people of color to pull over, especially if they’re black and driving expensive cars.
Cannabis was villainized by ‘reefer madness’ and in its own Jim Crow nightmare — no matter the American right to control our body and mind, covered in the opening words of the Declaration of Independence, which guarantees “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Freedom of thought is also guaranteed by the first amendment. The prohibition of cannabis was unconstitutional from the get-go.
But, evolution pushes at humanity and while today humans are under attack by their own species, many people are choosing a higher consciousness over slavery. Prohibition can’t be justified on moral or legal ground. The American Medical Association and the Federal Drug Administration have denied the truth about drugs when they come in conflict with government policies and corporate agendas, but thanks to democracy, cannabis is being freed from illegality and stigma, one state at a time. In a groundbreaking national effort, on November 19th, 2019, The House Judiciary Committee voted 24-10 to advance the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, sponsored by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). If passed by Congress, the U.S. is looking at ending federal cannabis prohibition completely.
The MORE Act would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances, authorize the provision of resources, funded by an excise tax on marijuana products, to address the needs of communities that have been most seriously impacted by the war on drugs and provide for the expungement of federal marijuana convictions and arrests.
First Nations people, the Native Americans who lived in North America before the Europeans invaded, have begun to open dispensaries and cultivation businesses on their reservations. With sovereign immunity from the U.S., the MORE Act will only change things slightly. Josh Grant, IIPAY Tribe member and Chairman of the Santa Ysabel Tribal Development Corporation, explained, “Let’s say the Fed pass the MORE Act and they put regulations in place, now do we want to give up our sovereign immunity and start operating on federal regulations? Do we want to waive our sovereign immunity and start functioning on state regulation? Probably not. Do we want to make our own regulations that fold these other ones in? Yes, we do.”
Not All Social Equity is Created Equal
Racial profiling is responsible for putting many people of color behind bars for cannabis. Expungement may be a huge win for America but what about reparations? While 40 acres and a mule was a Civil War promise never realized, Native Americans have long suffered in displacement and Mexicans completely shunned in the face of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, cannabis legalization in many states has promised to develop and implement policies that seek to center equity in cannabis policy reform.
Grant shares how deep these reforms are needed for First Nations people.
“What about tribal sovereignty and our ability and our inherent right to provide for our people by any means necessary? When we have elders without power and their houses are falling apart, when we have children without housing, without heat, without running water, when we have third-world conditions on our reservation, shouldn’t we be allowed under our tribal sovereignty to provide an economic plan to try to help these people with the proper dispersal of profit or income to cover the tribe? There’s a major civil right.
“What they’re violating is our tribal sovereignty by restricting us from having a free market to develop our resources to provide for our people. That’s first and foremost here. We’re talking first nations here; we’re talking first people. We’ve been pushed into a corner of worthless land, while the bulk of our territory has been taken and government entities are collecting taxes on that land without remitting a portion of those taxes back to the original people.”
Social equity programs hope to repair the damage done by the war on drugs and assist equitable ownership and employment opportunities in the cannabis industry to decrease disparities in low-income and marginalized communities.
Margolin explained the importance of social equity within the legalization framework, “I think that it’s one of the first times that any of the governmental bodies in the United States has chosen attempt at reparations in any kind of way shape or form. I think there’s obviously a lot that could be done to try to increase the power of social equity applicants. Most of those have to do with access to banking, not having to rely upon individuals or potential conglomerates who might make deals that aren’t like the best, but its better than nothing. It’s definitely a good beginning.”
But is social equity working? While all legal states do not have the same social equity programs, at the local level, cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles are trying to set up stronger programs to combat the barriers to enter the cannabis business and offer employment and business ownership opportunities.
Allison Margolin commented on the effectiveness of Los Angeles Social Equity Program,
“There’s social equity issues that will arrive, like we had this whole thing with the electronic first come, first serve, that became a situation and had levels of unfairness. But I think that if we fairly increase the number of dispensaries allowed, there’s no cap and we relax in the sensitive use requirements and if the state has certain requirements for the social equity on the local level that’d be great. Also, if the state-mandated there wouldn’t be a dry county, we could fix this huge disparity between the philosophy of before — the philosophy that’s supposed to be underpinning all of this and going on in these local governments, which is like reefer madness.
“Without the local governments being on board right now we don’t have too much access and that affects the whole market. We need to have more retail. We need to have more state-mandated social equity ownership requirements. But even with those things, yes, people can make money but there are a lot of control issues and the ability to control the market. Otherwise social equity can have benefits.”
States like Illinois and Massachusetts made social equity an integral part of their cannabis legalization. In states that didn’t, like Oregon, the city of Portland stepped up and granted eligibility for reduced license fees to businesses whose owners or staff had previous marijuana convictions; and in 2016, they enacted a city marijuana sales tax to generate funds for economic and education programs in communities where drug laws were disproportionately enforced.
Finding a happy medium for reparations can make sure who is supposed to benefit does, but there are many ways to create categories that were maybe not defined outright. For example, in Los Angeles, there is a three-tier social equity program with many different qualifications and benefits. A workforce requirement has a good faith effort to employ 50% of the weekly hourly workforce from the residents living within a three-mile radius of the cannabis business premises, with 20% social equity workers and 10% transitional workers. There are ways to make opportunities for everyone.
The Importance of Social Equity
Just as vital to understanding that legalization is a civil rights issue, is to be aware of the campaign of disinformation by the government. America is a nation with so many elephants in the room. It’s a zoo. Conscious evolution aside, changes can be made through policy and social equity is a good start.
“Reparations need to happen in the country in order for the United States to survive. Basically, this can be a good beginning to how we start it,” Margolin said. The people who have gone to prison for cannabis had to hire attorneys, had to be bailed out and they lost their jobs. “There should be a way for those people to benefit first economically. In addition to all these laws, the financing needs to be opened up, so passing state and federal banking is part of the effort because then you can have government-mandated funds and specialty programs. But now, you’re basically on your own unless you’re part of a bigger conglomerate, which might be like a big management company or otherwise you’re just in not of good positioning power,” she added.
Social equity is important to help people of color move on from the racist inquisition of cannabis prohibition. Margolin expressed that her grandparents were Holocaust survivors and received reparations from the Germans during her entire life. “They weren’t bitter towards Germans. They had no issues with Germans. Actually they’re both from Poland and they never went back there because they said there was so much anti-Semitism, but they went to Germany.”
The emotional and psychological trauma of racism is a scar this entire nation will carry until it can become completely transparent and make amends. Cannabis legalization is a gigantic step towards equality for all.
Margolin adds, “Basically the drug war and the war with cannabis has always been about taking things that are basic human needs and basic human impulses, which are the right to alter our consciousness on a level that’s pretty nuanced and not bad for you and punishing people for something most everyone does or that many people do.”
Maximize Your Dry January Enjoyment With Daytrip CBD Beverages
Daytrip has developed a range of natural, premium CBD beverages that delight the senses and open the mind to new possibilities.
Do you feel like you overindulged over the holiday season? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. After all the festivities of the Christmas and New Year’s period, some people decide to commit to a month of sobriety, otherwise known as ‘Dry January.’
Researchers at the University of Sussex have been studying Dry January since 2014. They have discovered that participants can expect to have better health – and a healthier bank balance.
But fear not! Dry January doesn’t mean forgoing all things deliciously effervescent. In fact, why not use this opportunity to embark on a new facet of your wellness journey by swapping out sugary sodas with sugar-free CBD beverages.
Daytrip craft natural, premium 100% water-soluble CBD drinks that absorb quickly into the body to maximize the cannabinoid’s bioavailability. CBD is an oil-based product, so when the technology doesn’t create a fully water-soluble CBD, the end product can’t effectively absorb into the body.
For this reason, Daytrip is different from other CBD drink options. The company has developed proprietary Foliole Nexus Technology, leveraging high-frequency energy to minimize the hemp-derived CBD’s particle size, enabling the cannabinoid to provide a near-instant effect and deliver consistent results.
Then, they infuse CBD into sparkling water and a botanical terpene profile to create four delicious flavors — cherry, coconut pineapple, lemon lime and tangerine — that can be used to create CBD cocktails that promote a happy effervescent feeling.
- 3/4 cup lemon lime Daytrip CBD sparkling water
- Ginger – muddled
- ¼ cup peach nectar
- 1 lemon wedge
Combine all ingredients in a glass and garnish with lemon and a ginger shaving.
The Bubbly Brunch
- 1/2 cup Tangerine Daytrip CBD Sparkling Water
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 TBSP elderflower syrup
- 1 lime wedge squeezed into glass
Combine all ingredients in a glass.
- 2 oz Cherry Daytrip CBD Sparkling Water
- 5 oz tequila
- 2 oz pineapple juice
- 1 oz pomegranate juice
Combine all ingredients in a glass and garnish with cherries and orange slices.
- ½ can Coconut Pineapple Daytrip CBD Sparkling Water
- 1 shot clear rum
- 2 slices of fresh pineapple Ice
Muddle one slice of pineapple and pour in Daytrip Coconut Pineapple, rum and ice. Garnish with the second pineapple slice
Firmly rooted in California culture, Daytrip embraces all that the Golden State represents; getting away from the grind and sharing good vibes.
Whether you’re at the beach, on the slopes, or simply in your own back yard, Daytrip wants to help you maximize your enjoyment.
The K.Haring Collection Is the Embodiment of Functional Art
The new K.Haring Collection is the epitome of his artistic style — vibrant yet sophisticated, stylish yet accessible and extremely enjoyable.
Keith Haring is undoubtedly one of the most influential artists of the 1980s. His graffiti-inspired artwork depicted simplified people, barking dogs and flying saucers worked into tightly arranged patterns. He drew inspiration from popular culture that surrounded him in New York City and beyond, his work could be found in all its bright, graphic glory in the streets, in clubs and the subway.
So it makes perfect sense then that the new K.Haring Collection is the epitome of his artistic style — vibrant yet sophisticated, stylish yet accessible and extremely enjoyable.
“The art world has long had an intertwined relationship with cannabis and has in many ways been instrumental in the advancement of the industry,” said Sasha Kadey, Chief Marketing Officer of Greenlane and Creative Director for the K.Haring Collection.
“The K.Haring Collection will help our mission to destigmatize and elevate the cannabis experience.”
The ten-piece collection is being released through Greenlane Holdings Inc and includes some of Haring’s most recognizable work in four colorways. It includes all of the essentials for an elevated smoking experience: bubblers, rigs, water pipes, tasters, spoon pipes, glass trays, and catchalls. A collaboration with BiC completes the collection with eight distinct lighters in bold hues that feature a range of the artist’s dynamic designs.
Peep the full collection below.
The K.Haring Collection is available now from haringglass.com.
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