CALIFORNIA: The Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo (CWCBExpo LA) picked a great time to convene in California, especially since there’s a measure on November’s ballot to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older. The Golden State is already one of 25 states along with D.C. that has legalized cannabis for medical use. Thousands are expected at the CWCBE on September 8-9, 2016 at the Los Angeles Convention Center to hear speakers address an assortment of issues related to the cannabis industry – like legislation, advocacy, finance, science and product trends.
CWCBExpo LA tapped three cannabis experts from different industries to talk candidly about a growing concern in the cannabis “green rush” – that is, diversity. Former NFL Super Bowl winner Marvin Washington; cannapreneur Bonita “Bo” Money, founder of Women Abuv Ground; and legal eagle Ariel Clark of the Cannabis Task Force will address diversity in a panel discussion, titled “Racial and Gender Diversity in the LA Cannabis Industry,” slated for 12 p.m. to 12:40 p.m. on Thursday, September 8 in room 502A of the LA Convention Center.
Thanks to the de-regulation of marijuana for medical and recreational use, the cannabis business is exploding, with sales estimated to reach $7 billion this year. It’s projected that the cannabis industry will top $35 billion annually by 2020. Still, minorities, namely African Americans and Latinos, may be left behind in the economic opportunities of the legal marijuana industry.
Money said that African Americans and Latinos are poised to miss the “green rush” for several reasons – that is, the lack of information about the legal use of medical marijuana; the cultural stigma associated with marijuana; the expensive start-up and application fees; and most importantly, the racial discrimination tied to drugs. “African American and Latino communities have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, leading to mass incarceration,” she explained. Because of criminal records, a large percentage of minorities are unable to participate in the business of cannabis due to state laws governing the industry.
“We can only achieve diversity in the medical cannabis market if it’s open to new businesses and entrepreneurs. That means we have to advocate for laws and policies that don’t play favorites,” added Ariel Clark, founder of Clark Neubert, LLC and chair of the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force. “Without laws that support an open market, new businesses won’t be able to operate. The time for communities to educate themselves and organize is now.”
NFLer Washington has been a vocal advocate for medical marijuana in the NFL for managing the pain of the brain by football players, namely concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Still, he stresses the need for inclusion of minorities in the cannabis business. “We want more than diversity, but inclusion,” said Washington. “We need to stop settling for diversity, and instead, embrace inclusion by having a seat at the table in the cannabis industry to facilitate the decision-making of this burgeoning industry.”
MEET THE PANELISTS:
- Marvin Washington — a former NFL player, Washington retired after 11 years, playing with three different teams – that is, the New York Jets, the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers. He was a member of the Denver Broncos 1998 Super Bowl winning team and was voted by Sports Illustrated as the 36th best New York Jet of all-time. A voice for former players in the NFL’s concussion lawsuit, Washington addresses the truth about the outcome as well as the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Now an advocate for all-natural, non-habit forming cannabis, Washington is speaking out on the topic of using cannabinoids as neuroprotectants as well as ways to alleviate the nation’s number one health epidemic – that is, prescription opioid abuse and addiction.
- Bonita “Bo” Money – A woman in weed, cannapreneur, Money is one of the few women of color in the emerging, billion dollar cannabis business. Born in Seoul, Korea, and raised in Monterey, CA, she is the co-creator of That Glass Jar ™ , a cannabis-infused topical, and founder of Women Abuv Ground (WAG), a professional networking organization dedicated to educating and empowering minority women in the emerging cannabis industry. By providing resources and supporting women of color in the cannabis industry, the organization is creating a diversified culture, celebrating the brilliance of women entrepreneurs, business owners and community leaders. For more information about Women Abuv Ground, visit http://www.womenabuvground.com
- Ariel Clark – Clark is a founding partner of Clark Neubert, LLP, a leading law firm in the California and national cannabis industry, and the chair of the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force. The task force is dedicated to creating a fair and vibrant cannabis industry in the city of Los Angeles by establishing a safe, lawful, and responsible local licensing system that aligns with the business and license categories authorized by California state law. Clark’s clients include licensed dispensaries, growers, and manufacturers in various states, including California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, and Michigan. Clark earned her juris doctor ‘s degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), and was awarded a bachelor’s degree, with honors, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her professional affiliations include member of the California State Bar and Venice Chamber of Commerce, board member for California NORML, founder of Elevate LA (a Los Angeles cannabis industry based nonprofit), member of and policy advisor to California Growers Association, and member of the National Cannabis Industry Association, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Beverly Hills Bar Association. For more information about the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force, visit http://lacannabistaskforce.org/
WANT TO GO?
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo (CWCBExpo LA)
“Racial and Gender Diversity in the LA Cannabis Industry” panel discussion
12 p.m. to 12:40 p.m.
LA Convention Center | Room 502A
1201 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90015