February is Black History Month, which has been a monthly remembrance of progress since 1976. While historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks receive a lot of focus during this month for their heroic actions, this is 28 days where our country recognizes the trials and tribulations faced by all African and black Americans of the past and present. Each year a theme is established for Black History Month, and this year it’s “African Americans in Times of War.” While this focuses on the 100th anniversary of World War I, this theme tells the stories of black Americans who participated in all American wars, from the American Revolution to today.
For the cannabis industry, there’s a war of awareness that’s being fought every day. It’s a battle for equality, but also a battle between those who support cannabis, and those who don’t believe in or understand the plant. In honor of Black History Month, CULTURE celebrates just a few of the many black activists who are helping to push the cannabis industry into a new era of acceptance.
Los Angeles is one of California’s biggest opportunities to push cannabis sales, and Cat Packer is at the heart of it. Packer was nominated to become the Department of Cannabis Regulation of Los Angeles in August 2017, largely in part to her previous experience in the industry. Packer worked as the California coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, and with that experience, is in tune with what the city needs to succeed.
Made famous for stating “F*ck this, I quit” on air for her Alaskan reporting job when covering a negative cannabis story in 2014, Charlo Greene has made quite journey. Her investment in the cannabis industry has grown full circle, but it wasn’t without tribulation. Greene was quietly invested in an Alaskan dispensary businesses, but her resignation helped bring the topic to light at an important time when Alaska needed to establish a dialogue about recreational cannabis. In 2016, she moved to Los Angeles, California where she began her own online web series entitled “The Weed Show.”
This New Jersey Senator is at the forefront of the cannabis industry in terms of support. Last year, he proposed the Marijuana Justice Act, which would remove cannabis from the controlled substances list, as well as suggest many other changes. (The act was just provided with a companion bill just last month). Booker’s actions in pushing the Act have made it apparent that he cares about the benefits that cannabis could bring, which includes a positive move to help low-income or minority communities that have been unfairly targeted because of the “War on Drugs.”
As a former executive director and board chairman of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, Jesce Horton is a great leader and activist. While he does conduct his own cannabis cultivation and edibles business in Portland, Oregon, he values the importance of helping the cannabis industry grow through sustainable business practices. He spreads his knowledge to the masses, and is often seen speaking at cannabis events across the country.
Dr. Lakisha Jenkins
A renowned supporter of holistic and naturopathic medicine, Dr. Lakisha Jenkins began her journey in understanding cannabis back in 2006. Since then, she became a founding member of the California Cannabis Industry Association, and also worked as a California State Affiliate with The National Cannabis Industry Association. While she continues to spread her alternative medical business, Jenkins also occasionally attends cannabis-related events, such as last month’s Hemp Symposium in Wisconsin.