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.”
After 25 Years, Supreme Closes Iconic Lafayette Store
In a move that has shocked through the streetwear community, Supreme has closed its original space on Lafayette after 25 years of business.
Back in February, the brand announced that its famous Lafayette location would be under renovation. Now, due to the unforeseen closure, the 190 Bowery location in Manhattan will now be the brand’s main location in the Big Apple.
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Off the Record, It’s National Expungement Week
“Would you like to know an absolutely crazy fact? There are 77 million people in the United States who have a criminal record.” This crazy statistic that instantly grabs your attention is how Seth Rogen opens the PSA for National Expungement Week.
Rogen also asks, “What does ‘expungement’ mean?” ‘On the record’, expungement means, clearing or sealing the record of a person’s prior arrest, criminal charges or conviction.
That’s a possibility for some of the 77 million people with criminal records — a large amount being minor offenses — which make up nearly a quarter of the population of the United States. Having a criminal record seriously impedes the ability to live for millions of people. It restricts access to jobs, housing, education, and the right to vote.
Cage-Free Cannabis is rooted in three kinds of justice, from reparative, to economic and environmental. Equity First Alliance works to bring reparative justice to, and be a voice for, those who have been most harmed by the War on Drugs.
The initiative will see over 40 events held in 30 cities, which will host workshops, allowing people to meet with lawyers and experts who can help them clear records, from September 21-28.
Among other company’s and businesses, N.E.W. is supported by Houseplant, the cannabis company launched by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, in the hopes of exposing the social injustices associated with cannabis convictions.
With 18 events in 15 cities that helped nearly 300 people begin the process of changing their records, the inaugural National Expungement Week in 2018 was clearly a success and led to the initiative returning this year.
If you’re interested in clearing your record or helping someone else do the same, you can find further information — including the dates and details of specific events — on the official site of N.E.W.; offtherecord.us.
Internet-à-Porter: 5 Wearable Technology Products for Smarter Fashion
We live an era where people have a personal computer in their pocket or on their wrist. These devices also have almost instant and interrupted access to the Internet and the global hive mind. That tech continues to get smaller, smarter and faster with each generation. So much, the next logical step for everyday technology is to blend it with everyday apparel — in what is known as wearable technology, or wearables.
From Saint Laurent to Levi’s, these 5 wearables will make you think less about Google Glass and more Internet-à-porter.
Jacquard x Saint Laurent
Saint Laurent is a French luxury fashion house (founded by its namesake Yves Saint Laurent), known for its aspirational high-end fashion, handbags and fragrances. And Jacquard by Google transforms clothing, making for an entirely new take on wearables. Jacquard technology is woven into the fabric of your clothes and accessories, such as the Jacquard x Saint Laurent Cit-e Backpack.
From taking photos, to playing music and even navigation, you can control your smartphone from touch gestures made possible by the Jacquard tech integrated into the left strap of the backpack. The backpack functions like the Apple Watch, with the interactive features built into what is an everyday item.
Jacquard x Levi’s
Founded in 1853, Levi’s has a long history of fashionable, yet innovative and functional clothing. The obvious next step was a collab with Jacquard by Google. That resulted in the Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket, the first product to be offered by Jacquard, which upgrades one of Levi’s most iconic products with user-friendly tech.
With features like articulated shoulders, reflectors sewn in, and a dropped hem at the tail, the denim jacket was specifically designed for urban cyclists. The Jacquard tech takes the features even further, with the functions woven right into the sleeve of the Commuter Trucker Jacket. This allows riders get directions, control their media, and stay connected while on the bike and on the go.
Bose Audio Sunglasses
Remember caps with headphones attached? It’s time to forget that kind of novelty. That won’t be difficult after using the Bose Audio Sunglasses. The sunglasses have built-in speakers (it is Bose after all) to make for an immersive audio experience. The thing is, the frames still look like sunglasses, only with the state-of-the-art audio tech embedded in a classic design.
The wearer hears rich, immersive audio, while everyone else hears almost nothing. That’s thanks to the exclusive miniaturized Bose speakers hidden in the temples. The frames aren’t just a comfortable way to listen to music or a podcast, with the company having also developed Bose AR, the first-of-its-kind audio augmented reality platform to complement the tech. That lets users experience more by augmenting the way you experience the world with content for ears instead of eyes (enhancing certain apps like Coachella’s).
It’s easy to forget that it was one of the first wearables available to the public (and also the best-selling) when it was released in April 2015. So, while the Apple Watch isn’t new tech, it definitely is cutting-edge tech, as the recently announced Apple Watch Series 5 is definitely that.
The Apple Watch is more than an interface between your smartphone and the user. The smartwatch has all the features of your iPhone but incorporates dedicated fitness tracking and health-oriented capabilities. The new Series 5 can even keep an eye on your heart, checking your heart rate throughout the day, notifying you if it appears too high or too low. Being customizable in the way of a case and strap (available from Apple Watch Studio), the Apple Watch isn’t just user-friendly but also a statement.
Like a watch, a ring isn’t for everyone. But unlike a watch, a ring is less intrusive, especially when it can still track your sleep and your fitness. That kind of smart ring is available from Oura and is one of the world’s smallest wearables, if not the most advanced.
The Oura packs a lot of features in such a small package. It allows you to gain accurate and usable information of your sleeping patterns, your heart rate, body temperature trends, repository rate, even the steps taken and the calories burned. Not just that, but Oura can measure blood volume (directly from the palmar arteries of the finger) and the amplitude and intensity of body movements (through a 3D accelerometer and gyroscope). Put simply, it’s like an activity tracker but in a more discreet package.
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