Freedom Leaf’s Diversity in Cannabis Impact List
Cofounder, Jade Insights and Cannabis Tech Group, New York, N.Y.
«2017 was an incredible year for my career. After months of development, my partner and I built and successfully launched the beta for our cannabis data-analytics software, Jade Insights. It’s a software platform that helps cannabis businesses augment their process by providing insights for data-backed decision-making. In addition, I also had the pleasure of working with government and PR groups, national CBD brands, organizations like Women Grow, and companies like Mindful in Colorado. I continue to advocate for patient access to medical marijuana, and work with recreational legalization groups like Start SMART New York and Drug Policy Alliance that aim to take away one of the many tools law enforcement uses to lock up people of color, and to make sure we’re not pushed out of this industry. My team and I successfully hosted our first Cannabis Technology Summit in New York City in June. Our goal is to bring awareness of emerging innovation and opportunities to the East Coast regarding cannabis technology and to destigmatize cannabis.»
Policy Associate, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
«My impact has primarily been around federal legislation—from the inclusion of racial justice and reparative language in marijuana legalization to emphasizing the need to end collateral consequences of drug convictions and ease the burden for people post-conviction or incarceration. I worked closely with Sen. Cory Booker’s team on the Marijuana Justice Act, the first bill to legalize marijuana on the federal level that intentionally includes racial justice and reparative components. I also worked closely with Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s team on legislation that would lift the decades-old collateral consequence of having your driver’s license automatically suspended for a minimum of six months after any drug conviction. It was 1991 when Congress passed a law requiring states to automatically suspend drivers’ licenses for a drug offense, and the catch phrase then was, ‘Smoke a joint, lose your license.’ In the years since, the harsh impact on people trying to get back on their feet is shining a light on just how counterproductive the War on Drugs has been and continues to be.»
DR. G. MALIK BURNETT
Physician, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Washington, D.C.
«Over the past year, while completing a residency at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, I continued to advance the broader drug-policy reform agenda around the country. In the District of Columbia, I worked to pass legislation expanding the city’s medical-cannabis program, establishing policies including universal reciprocity, independent laboratory testing of medical cannabis and allowing nurse practitioners to recommend cannabis. Additionally, I serve on the board of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, where I work with physicians across the country to ensure smart policies around public health and social justice are included in state and local legislation. I also worked on Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s operational response team providing strategic data analysis of the state’s response to the opioid epidemic.»
Executive Vice President/Industry Analytics, New Frontier Data, Washington, D.C.
«Working for a data-analytics company focused on the cannabis industry, I have the privilege of leading a team that tirelessly strives to understand the current state of the industry and where it’s going. This year, we’ve looked at issues like job creation, tax revenue growth and the surging demand for non-flower products. We’ve also dealt with the role of cannabis in reducing opioid abuse, an issue that’s dominating the public discourse right now. Since January, I’ve traveled to more than 20 cities around the U.S. and Canada to understand how the different markets are evolving, and to present our market insights at conferences and industry events. We’ve met with investors and entrepreneurs among the vanguard of the industry, briefed U.S. and Canadian cannabis regulators as well as Congressional lawmakers and their staff, and were even invited to speak at the White House about the trends we’re seeing. We’re delighted that entrepreneurs and innovators who are shaping the future of legal cannabis are using our data to understand the industry, define policy, evaluate opportunities and measure impacts. Stay tuned for more groundbreaking insights in the year ahead.»
Owner, StockPot Images, Los Feliz, Calif.
«In January 2015, I looked at a close relative and thought, ‘Wow, she’s a stoner.’ After hearing that thought reverberate in my brain, I realized that I’d become that person that stereotypes minorities, someone who puts the ‘other’ in a box out of fear, racism and small-mindedness. That day, StockPot Images was born. I made StockPot’s mission to open minds like mine to the real faces and communities of cannabis. We’re now the largest cannabis-photo agency, with over 225 photographers, all active in the cannabis community and archiving the communities’ truths. In June, we created the Dennis Peron Collection, a library of images that’s an archive of his history and his leading contributions to the legalization of cannabis. All licensing profits go to the Dennis Peron Foundation. One of my favorite images that encapsulated our mission in 2017 was of a young boy running through a garden of cannabis. His joy and lack of fear of the plant brought me hope for a future where cannabis is recognized as a healing plant.»
Cofounder, EstroHaze, New York, N.Y.
«Last January, I was unhappy at work, restless and felt my life shifting. After resigning from my employer in mid-February, two colleagues of mine and I moved to Colorado to immerse ourselves in the cannabis industry there. We were accepted by CanopyBoulder. In 2015, I went on The Breakfast Club, one of the biggest radio shows in the U.S. When asked about what industries people should invest in, I said, “Cannabis.” I was invited back in 2016 and 2017, and each time I talked about the amazing opportunities in cannabis. I encourage people of color to learn more about the cannabis industry and to transition into the cannabis workforce using their existing skill sets. Along with my EstroHaze cofounders Kali Wilder and Safon Floyd, in less than a year we’ve created a media company and a safe space for multicultural women to learn about the cannabis industry—from health and wellness to career and business opportunities. We’ve become a bridge for multicultural cannabis connoisseurs, elevating the conversation beyond the stoner stereotypes.»
Cofounder, Denver Relief Consulting, Denver, Colo.
«2017 was the years we became one of only five vertically integrated operations in Pennsylvania, and the first to become operational, with Cresco Yeltrah. Our Nevada operations with Silver Sage Wellness maneuvered into adult use, while our Illinois operations grew, with Cresco Labs holding a 25% market share in the state. My offices also released a comprehensive California market report and took a controlling interest in High Times. I’m also co-executive producer for Super Troopers 2, which will be released in April. I was re-elected as a director with both the National Cannabis Industry Association (in December, he resigned from the board) and the Minority Cannabis Industry Association (MCBA), and worked on the MCBA’s state model bill that was crafted to ensure minority participation in the cannabis industry and a reinvestment into the communities that have been most harmed by the drug war. I coproduced the 2nd Annual Cannabis Sustainability Symposium in partnership with the city of Denver in October, and attended my fifth NCIA Lobby Day in May. Perhaps most important, I cochaired the committee that brought Denver its first tiny-house village to serve people experiencing homelessness, sit on a board that is proposing supervised injection facilities in Denver and filed paperwork to run for mayor of Denver in 2019.»
Cofounder, Simply Pure, Denver, Colo.
«Not only did Simply Pure experience significant growth over the past year, we continued to fight for industry progress and equality. We opened the recreational side of the dispensary nearly two years ago, and that proved to be great for the overall business. With this steady growth, we added more than 20 new employees. In addition, our Simply Pure brand infused products are coming out next year. We started in the industry making our own edibles, so the return to infused products is very exciting. We’re committed to educating our patients and empowering them to make the best decisions for their lifestyles, and that includes a variety of ways to consume cannabis. Since we started in 2009, we’ve been vocal and active on local, regional and national levels, working to destigmatize consumption, decriminalize use and promote that, frankly, regulation works. Last spring, we helped lead an industry push with other Denver business owners to combat the city’s hard stop on sales, which was 7 p.m. We were successful and, as a result, cannabis retail shops now have the option to stay open until 10 p.m. While Simply Pure grows, we know it’s important to fight for the industry—from a legalization, regulation and diversity standpoint.»
Founder, A Rebel Minded Society, Brooklyn, N.Y.
«As one of the voices for a community of rebels who’ve been negatively affected by the War on Drugs, I felt it was important for A.R.M.S. to aid in raising the public’s level of consciousness as to what is happening, and to help them be part of the reshaping of the cannabis industry as it becomes legal nationwide. Our mission is to provide outlets and resources for creative expression through media, music, fashion and art, as well as a platform to discuss community issues. This year we formally introduced our Cannabis Awareness Society events, featuring panel discussions, live music, art and vendors, and in October, our first annual fundraiser for breast cancer. As we seek to raise awareness and funds, I felt it was important to shed light on cannabis’ impact in medical treatment by educating our community on how the endocannabinoid system can help fight off the disease and become an alternative option to conventional treatments. The future is looking promising for cannabis, and it’s our goal to ensure our community is properly equipped with the knowledge and tools to be part of the change.»
DEBORAH PETERSON SMALL
Founder, Break the Chains, Oakland, Calif.
«I propose that leaders in the cannabis industry pledge 1%-2% of their annual profits to establish a venture philanthropy fund that would be used to back projects in communities disproportionately affected by marijuana-law enforcement. To be eligible to receive monies from the ‘Fund for Growth’ (funded by cannabis growers), an applicant would have to be a resident of the targeted community and a member of one of the local savings clubs. We would encourage communities to replicate the model of ‘sou-sous,’ a popular savings strategy in Caribbean and African communities. I’m calling them Community Assisted Self-Help (CASH) clubs, where members would set aside a certain amount each month into the fund. The amount would be matched by the Fund for Growth. This would provide buy-in from both community residents as well as funders, giving all some ‘skin in the game,’ as well as providing an incentive for saving and investing. As an additional incentive to growers, we could incorporate a logo—similar to a ‘fair trade’ logo—for the project that would be placed on the products generated by contributing businesses so consumers would know when they purchase certain products they’re also helping to promote restorative justice and community reinvestment.»
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