This collection of podcast episodes from Summer 2020 through February 2021, feature Tahir Johnson, formerly NCIA’s’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager, where he hosted cannabis industry operators, advocates, and allies to discuss issues related to social equity and highlight their experiences, challenges, and success stories as minorities in the cannabis industry.
Tune in to this episode to learn more about raising capital for a cannabis business with Cliff Whatmore and Sumit Mehta from NCIA's Banking and Financial Services Committee.
Sumit is a cannabis strategist, an internationally recognized speaker, and the author of the MAZAKALI GreenPaper, an authoritative voice on deep industry trends in its sixth year of publication with over 70,000 readers. In addition to his role at MAZAKALI, Sumit serves on several cannabis company boards and is the Chair of the NCIA’s Banking and Financial Services committee.
Cliff Whatmore is the President of MAB Investments, AND Evolv Capital Partners Where he applies the rules of Behavioral Finance and Economics to develop novel investment strategies, and Wealth Governance Solutions. Cliff started early-stage investing in biotechs, and CPG companies; before focusing on the cannabis space in 2014. He has submitted studies on Private companies’ valuations using Behavioral pricing models. He has several successful exits over $500,000,000.00 and taken companies to the public markets. He has a strong background in food science including launching a Nutraceutical MATCHA +, a sports beverage, and is a member of the Institute of Food Technology and the Research Chefs Association.
Both are Members of NCIA’s Banking and Financial Services Committee. So being on the Banking and Finance Committee, their group is taking on various issues ranging from raising capital for your business to the SAFE Banking Act at the federal level. We start with the topic of raising capital for a cannabis business, which is still federally illegal. We walk everyone through the process here starting from having the brilliant idea while brushing your teeth to having a full-fledged business, essentially how we get from A to Z.
Cannabis Doing Good is a platform to create opportunities for cannabis and communities to collaborate, to inspire new ways of people, planet, and business engagement, and to showcase companies doing good. Cannabis Doing Good aims to create a purpose-driven cannabis network, showcase companies doing good, and set the standard for social responsibility in the cannabis sector. Courtney Mathis is the CEO and co-founder of Cannabis Doing Good and Kelly Perez is President/co-founder.
Venus Hemachandra is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Herbiculture.
Herbiculture is one of very few minority and woman-owned medical cannabis dispensaries in Maryland, with just recently receiving the pre-approvals to operate medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing operations in Maryland. Venus got her start in Canada, with her and the team obtaining one of the very first pre-approvals to operate in Canada as a licensed medical cannabis producer in 2013. Since then, Herbiculture has recently obtained a retail operator license, which allows for 30 dispensary locations in Ontario, Canada, with the first storefront expected to open in April.
Venus also plays an active role in the Maryland Medical Dispensary Association (MDMDA) where she currently co-chairs the diversity and inclusion initiative, DREAM. She has since joined the Board of the Maryland Wholesale Medical Cannabis Trade Association and has been recognized as one of 10 key players in Maryland’s legal cannabis space by the Baltimore Business Journal. To learn more about Herbiculture visit www.herbiculture.com/
Ngaio Bealum is an American comedian, musician, writer, actor, activist, juggler and publisher. He co-hosted Cannabis Planet and published West Coast Cannabis Magazine. Bealum hosted his own podcast on Cannabis Radio, which was formatted as a travelogue of cannabis events with a discussion on cannabis topics and trends. He writes a column in Sacramento News & Review, answering questions from readers about marijuana and its politics, and currently hosts on cannabis education and trivia app Daily Bonfire. He was also the host of Neflix's first cannabis show, Cooking on High. Ngaio was born in San Francisco to hippie parents, leading to jokes about how he got his name. As an entertainer and activist, Bealum is often a guest speaker on television and cultural commentary podcasts, notably on topics concerning the cannabis industry. He regularly hosts High Times events, and participates in the annual International Cannabis Business Conference. His debut comedy album "Weed and Sex" was released in 2012. Bealum was also a member of the award winning hip hop band Most Chill Slackmob (vocals, percussion), and 1994 People's Choice Award winner of the International Jugglers Association Fest. Bealum has a line of cannabis "pre-rolls" through Mothership Farms, where he showcases interesting Cannabis strains through his close relationship with growers. The first release was Tahoe Nebula. He also has a featured strain through Natural Cannabis' "High Life Celebrities" line.
With a background in biochemistry and microbiology, as well as being the founder, CEO, and market leader for several cannabis companies, Susan Hwang has a solid understanding of the positive impact cannabis can have on the human body. Propelled by the desire to provide people the positive benefits of cannabis without having to compromise mental clarity, Susan founded DailyDose—a luxury online and retail store that focuses on premium, CBD products. When Susan isn’t working at DailyDose or as the CEO and Class A member of Jamestown Center, Inc., founder and CEO of cannabis consulting firm SH Management Services, LLC, and CEO of Susu Holdings, LLC, Susan is heavily involved in philanthropic endeavors. She actively supports causes committed to gender and racial equality, volunteering for Girls who Inspire, Volunteer and Empower (G.I.V.E), and is an advocate for One Community, which supports LGBTQ rights. Within the cannabis community, Susan serves as Market Leader for Women Grow Phoenix and Women Grow Los Angeles, one of the largest national networks for cannabis entrepreneurs. To learn more about Best Dispensary visit https://bestdispensary.com/
Andrew Farrior is the Managing Partner at Digital Venture Partners. He has over 10 years of Marketing, Communications, and Project Management experience. Digital Venture Partners was founded as one of the only minority-owned portfolio companies in the United States and is focused on the intersection of mainstream culture and cannabis. By collaborating with brands and platforms, they create quality cannabis content and branding that raises cannabis awareness in the minds of mainstream audiences from every background. Digital Venture Partners has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The Associated Press, Playboy, REVOLT, Cannabis Business Times, BET and more. To Learn More about Digital Venture Partners visit https://www.digitalventure.partners/
Yoko Miyashita is the CEO of Leafly, the world’s definitive cannabis information resource and a marketplace to connect consumers with cannabis retailers and brands. Miyashita joined Leafly in 2019 as General Counsel, where she led Leafly’s position and policies on key compliance and government affairs issues to maintain and progress the company’s reputation as a trusted and authoritative cannabis resource. Prior to Leafly, Miyashita served as General Counsel at Getty Images. Download the Leafly app on your phone and visit www.leafly.com to learn more.
A child of Yahweh, Husband, Father, Hard Worker, Hustla, Alphonso "Tucky" Blunt Jr., is a true testament to walking your path. The Owner of both Blunts + Moore dispensary, and Proud Papas clothing is a fifth generation Oakland native, that has opened the first dispensary under the City of Oakland's Equity Program. While growing up in Oakland, California during the war on drugs era, he managed to stay out of trouble and maintain a 4.0 gpa and a full time job while in high school. He was also using and selling cannabis. Cannabis sales to him was another form of employment. In 1999 while on an errand with his grandmother, she had him go to a dispensary, from that day forward his mission was to own one for himself, so he could sale cannabis legally. He worked at and was a vendor for multiple bay area dispensaries from 1999-2004. In 2003 he attempted to become an owner of a dispensary, and was told blacks would never own in this business. In 2004 he was arrested for possession with the intent to sale, and given 10 years of felony probation with a 4 way search clause. Still determined to learn more on the legal side, he attended and graduated from Oaksterdam University in 2008. In true path formation, had he not been arrested, he would not have qualified for the Equity program... Now as the 1st person to open a dispensary under Oakland's Equity program, he is finally continuing on that path of ownership. His goals and values are still spiritual and family driven. He is looking to change the face of the cannabis industry, one location at a time. Blunts + Moore opened its doors on November 24th, 2018 to a huge crowd, great food, and lifted spirits. A native born son, selling cannabis legally in Oakland!
Kim Napoli, Esq is the Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Affairs at Parallel, one of the largest privately-held multi-state cannabis operators in the U.S. Kim served as the Director of Outreach for the successful Yes on 4 Campaign to Regulate and Tax Marijuana in Massachusetts in 2016. Now, as a Massachusetts Cannabis Advisory Board member, Kim helps develop and deliver messaging regarding social justice and equality in the Massachusetts cannabis industry in order to support and bolster equity in ownership amongst disparately impacted communities such as her own. To learn more about Parallel visit https://www.liveparallel.com/
She Blaze is a trailblazing podcast bringing cannabis culture from a woman’s perspective to the mainstream. Co-hosts Dasheeda and Ice are millennial women offering a frank and funny take on the industry, combining keen business insight with head-nodding real talk, news, reviews, and interviews. Welcome to a bold new take on the high life.
The award-winning weekly show offers a glimpse into life of trendsetting thought-leader Dasheeda Dawson, with ‘Where in the World is The WeedHead™’ and the fun, girly, cultural intersection with little sister, Ice Dawson, the Cannabis Socialite whose bubbly personality and striking white ensembles have made her a rising influencer on the cannabis social scene. Dasheeda is an internationally renowned cannabis leader and expert who has used her business acumen and background in molecular biology to shape multi-million dollar industry projects and currently serves as the Cannabis Program Supervisor for the city of Portland, OR.
While Ice isn’t just the life of the party, she also knows how to get it started as an event producer. Together, they offer an incisive industry perspective fueled by their on-the-ground experience. Join them every Saturday at 9am PST/12pm EST for the latest from the world of cannabis. To learn more about The Weedhead™ & Company and She Blaze visit https://www.theweedhead.com/
Nadir Pearson, a recent graduate of Brown University is the founder of SMART (Student Marijuana Alliance for Research & Transparency) a national college cannabis community. After his freshman year, Nadir was forced to retire from his Division 1 football career after suffering his sixth concussion. and made the pivot from a full-time student-athlete to an entrepreneur. He's now been featured in Forbes, Huff Post, and Entrepreneur. An expert digital strategist, Pearson has experience with Herb, High Times, Ardent Cannabis, and some of the cannabis industry's most prominent media platforms. Nadir has also given a TED Talk on cannabis. You can learn more about SMART at https://studentmmj.com/
Leo Bridgewater Sr. currently serves as Director of Veteran's Outreach for Minorities for Medical Marijuana and Chief Innovation Officer for CWCBExpo. Born and raised in Trenton NJ, he attended Trenton Central High School graduating in 1994. In 2001 Leo enlisted into the United States Army in response to the September 11 attacks in New York City and Washington DC and served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army Specialist. Leo’s advocacy has seen him testify in NJ Senate Committee to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) added to the NJ Medical Marijuana Program. In September of 2016 NJ Gov. Chris Christie signed bill S-2345 adding PTSD to the NJMMP. He is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice over the unconstitutional classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance. Harmony, the medical cannabis dispensary in Secaucus, honored Leo Bridgewater in time for Memorial Day by naming a cannabis strain after him, Bridge H2O. The strain was developed in consultation with Bridgewater to alleviate PTSD and anxiety, among other conditions, many veterans and others experience. To learn more about Leo Bridgewater visit www.nj.com/leobridgewater
Rico Lamitte is the founder and CEO of Canivision. In 2016 a cancer scare led Lamitte to abruptly leave a nearly 10-year career in corporate finance into the cannabis industry. Rico’s been able to successfully navigate the industry’s notoriously difficult California business climate; building brands and forging lasting relationships throughout the state. He is also a TedX speaker and was the market leader for Los Angeles and Orange County chapters of Cannagather and was a co-founder of the National Diversity and Inclusion Cannabis Alliance (NDICA). To learn more about Canivision visit Canivision.com
Landon Dais is the Chief Strategy Officer at Plant Inspired Future, a minority owned cannabis business with cannabis and hemp licenses in Michigan and New York. He specializes in policy, employment, and construction litigation and is admitted in the 1st department of New York. In 2015, Dais was named pro-bono attorney of the year by Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center for his work handling drug convictions and arrests. Prior to joining PIF, Landon was the National Director of Partnerships for Medmen, one of the largest MJ companies in the US. He also previously served as the Political Director for the MJ Policy Project of New York (“MPP of NY”). Recently, Dais was given the prestigious NAACP Roy Wilkins Award in recognition of his work in policy, law and advocacy. In addition to his professional accolades Landon starred in the popular early reality show, Harlem Heights on BET.
To learn more about Plant Inspired future visit https://www.livepif.com/
CJ Wallace and Willie Mack founded the cannabis company, Think BIG to honor the legacy of CJ's late father The Notorious B.I.G. who is recognized as one of the greatest rappers of all time.
Think Big is a champion for social and criminal justice reform, including the fights against mass incarceration unjust marijuana laws and environmental policies that disproportionately target people of color. To learn more about Think BIG visit www.comethinkbig.com/
Caroline Phillips is the founder and Executive Producer of the National Cannabis Festival and principal of The High Street, a marketing and events company based in Washington, D.C. Caroline focuses her work on conceptualizing, strategizing and executing live event and marketing experiences that leverage business and advocacy to champion social good. Caroline founded National Cannabis Festival to celebrate progress on cannabis legalization through music, art, education, and exhibitions. Now in its third year, NCF is the largest ticketed cannabis-themed event on the east coast. Caroline lives in Washington, D.C. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University, completed post-graduate studies at Howard University and received her Master’s degree from Georgetown University. You can learn more about National Cannabis Festival at https://nationalcannabisfestival.com/
Jessica F. Gonzalez currently serves as a Cannabis and Intellectual Property attorney at Bressler Amery & Ross, a multidisciplinary law firm with over 175 attorneys and offices in New Jersey, New York, Florida, Alabama and Washington, DC. Jessica also services as outside General Counsel for the national organization Minorities for Medical Marijuana and sits on the Policy Committee for the Minority Cannabis Business Association. Jessica also sits on the board of advisors for QA Canna, a quality assurance company based in NJ. Prior to joining Bressler, Jessica was the co-founding partner at MGA Law PC, a boutique business law firm with a special focus on cannabis. As a cannabis attorney, Jessica Gonzalez helps clients navigate the legal cannabis and hemp industry in the tristate area. She has counseled start up and medium sized cannabis/CBD companies on various matters, including corporate entity set-up, state and local compliance, private offering documents and applications for state cannabis licenses. Jessica also counsels corporate and individual clients on intellectual property procurement, prosecution, protection, and enforcement for domestic and international trademarks. As a cannabis advocate, Jessica has presented on both the municipal and state level on topics such as social justice/social equity, IP protection, cannabis legislation, state and federal banking and state cannabis licensing.
They are two of the co-founders of The Original Equity Group. OEG's objective is to ensure that the Equity Program thrives in San Francisco by providing the foundation and framework needed for success. This includes ensuring our equity applicants have access to business training, good jobs, safe funding, and strategic partnerships, as well as making sure that equity incubator businesses are connected to the community through various outreach programs. OEG organizes and executes on workshops, events, and educational resources. They also recently launched the Equity Trade Certification.
Tauhid Chappell is an Executive Board member of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, the first and oldest association of black journalists in the U.S. Recently he worked as a social media producer at The Washington Post before joining the Philadelphia Inquirer as an engagement editor, where he analyzes reader behavior on search, social and digital platforms.
In 2008 Tauhid was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune deficiency disorder. Using cannabis helps manage his condition and his triggers. He also spent time working part-time as a cannabis patient advisor for the medical marijuana dispensary.
In April 2019, he founded the Color of Cannabis Conference, Philadelphia's first cannabis conference that was led by a media nonprofit which educated media professionals and community members on all aspects of cannabis - from its history to current industry trends.
You can learn more about The CannAtlantic Conference at https://www.cannatlantic.co/
Tune in to this episode to learn more about Margeaux Bruner, an experienced cannabis leader and speaker who specializes in compliance, operations, government affairs, policy, social equity, and issues relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is the Director of Compliance & Diversity Inclusion across all business entities for Mid-American Growers/Red White & Bloom, where she supports the legal, compliance, and government affairs team by assisting with onsite cannabis operational compliance.
Bruner has been tirelessly devoted to government and public policy, while standing up for social justice. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Minority Cannabis Business Association, and the National Cannabis Industry Association’s State Regulations Committee.
As the former Political Director for the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, Bruner assuaged and liaised policy on behalf of the membership that was comprised of cannabis licensees and ancillary business. The Michigan Attorney General, Dana Nessel, selected her to serve on its Marijuana Policy Workgroup, which worked to ensure that the laws were clarified and improved when necessary for implementing marijuana law in Michigan fairly, equally, and appropriately. She previously held an appointment from former Governor Rick Snyder as a Commissioner on the Impaired Driving Safety Committee representing qualified and registered patients. During the 2018 Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol campaign, Bruner served as a Designated Speaker and Strategist on behalf of the Marijuana Policy Project.
NCIA is leading the cannabis industry's unified and coordinated campaign to ensure our business sector is treated fairly and has the opportunity to reach its full potential. Now - more than ever - is the time to invest in your business and the future of the industry by becoming a member.