Honeysuckle is proud to present “Asians Across The Supply Chain: Profiles In AANHPI Cannabis,” in partnership with Dutchie! Through this final week of AANHPI Month, we will be introducing you to cannabis industry stakeholders who are building the foundation for this evolving space and pioneering the brands that serve the ecosystem as a whole. These professionals come from all across the cannabis supply chain, proving that each sector functions in tandem to build an inclusive, expansive and growing industry.

Meet Anne Forkutza, Head of Social Impact and Industry Partnerships at Dutchie.

What Is Dutchie?

An all-in-one dispensary platform solution designed for the cannabis industry, Dutchie helps nearly 6,000 retailers across North America stay compliant. The company provides each dispensary with point of sale, ecommerce, payments, and insurance, including New York’s very own Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) licensed retailers.

Anne Forkutza, Head of Social Impact & Industry Partnerships at Dutchie, with hip hop icon M1 of dead prez at the 2023 Emjays award show during MJBizCon in Las Vegas (C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @tissuekulture

Anne Forkutza On Asian Heritage, Entering The Cannabis Space, And What Makes New York Special

HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: How did you get into the cannabis space?

ANNE FORKUTZA: I started working at a digital ad agency when I was 18 to gain experience while finishing my computer science degree at [Simon Fraser University] in Vancouver, Canada. During that time, I worked on award-winning campaigns for big brands like Nike, Nintendo, EA Sports, Samsung, and Starbucks. Eventually I found myself in the cannabis tech world, where I was able to work with iconic cannabis brands like Cookies, Star Buds and Native Roots early on in my career. 

With my role now at Dutchie, it's been incredible leaning into New York's efforts to lead with social equity. I've been in this space for nearly 10 years now: I've seen many states legalize across the country and Canada go through federal legalization. New York is the only place in the world where nearly 40 percent* of adult-use licenses across the supply chain are owned and operated by people of color. [*That statistic is based on the state Office of Cannabis Management’s May 2024 report.]  Strain Stars, one of the top dispensaries not only in New York but in North America, is owned and operated by a South Asian family. Diverse cannabis retail and community leaders such as CONBUD, TerpBros and Happy Munkey, have pioneered and continue to advocate for this industry in their own unique way. It's been inspiring to learn from one another. Although I may know a lot about the cannabis industry, New York cannabis is just different. New York is just something that you need to live and experience in person to truly understand the culture and the business. It has been a wild ride to see this industry evolve so much over the years, yet in some ways we're just getting started.

What is your connection to your heritage?

I was born in Brunei, a tiny country in Southeast Asia near Malaysia. My parents immigrated to Canada when I was three months old. My background is technically Chinese Malaysian, but I grew up Canadian and have been told I have a Canadian accent. I am fluent in Hakka Chinese, understand a bit of Cantonese, and know enough Mandarin to be dangerous (thanks to my parents forcing me to attend Mandarin school every Saturday while I was growing up).

What advice do you have for Asians looking to enter the cannabis industry?

Don't overthink it, just do it. Attend events in person and join associations like the New York Cannabis Retail Association (NYCRA) and the Cannabis Association of New York (CANY). LinkedIn is also very cannabis friendly. Don't ever think a question is too dumb to ask - you'd be surprised as to how inclusive and welcoming the cannabis community can be. If someone does make you feel dumb, it means that they are in the cannabis industry for the wrong reasons and you should not listen to them anyway. 

The stigma is still real. What is something you wish the Asian community knew about the cannabis industry?

Some of the smartest, most hardworking people in the world are in the cannabis industry, and some of those hardworking leaders are Asian women: Lulu Tsui (On The Revel and Cannabis Media Council), Tiffany Chin (Death Row Cannabis), and Angela Cheng (KANHA), just to name a few. 

For more about Dutchie, visit dutchie.com.

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Anne Forkutza


Cannabis Association of New York

Sam C. Long


Featured image: Anne Forkutza, Head of Social Impact & Industry Partnerships at Dutchie (C) Jeune Frere @jeunefrere