Black Cannabis Week is your connection to entrepreneurship, wellness, innovation, education, and more. As one of the Diasporic Alliance for Cannabis Opportunities’ (DACO) annual programming initiatives, Black Cannabis Week focuses on organizing cannabis events that span across the African diaspora.
What Happened At Black Cannabis Week 2023?
Both virtually and in person, Black Cannabis Week offers individuals the opportunity to connect, network, and participate in the upliftment of BIPOC owned businesses in the cannabis industry. Black Cannabis Week 2023’s conference weekend was one for the books!
With the event held in the first capital of the United States, Philadelphia was glowing all weekend long in the name of BIPOC owned in cannabis. This was my first time attending, and my first time serving as media sponsor, with the assistance of Leena Trinidad and Magical Goddess Dom; the organizers, speakers, award recipients, etc., did not disappoint.
The message, the energy, and the mission all screamed: “THIS IS FOR US! If no one else has us, we have to have us!”
Who Sponsored Black Cannabis Week 2023?
Honeysuckle was proud to be a media partner for Black Cannabis Week, which this year was presented by prestigious sponsors including Trulieve, the office of State Senator Sharif Street, Liberty Cannabis, Terrapin, Ethos Cannabis, Skunk Magazine, Fernway, the Drug Policy Alliance, Blaze Responsibly, 3IsFor, Green Thumb Industries, R&A Health, Beyond Hello, Archer & Greiner PC, Drexel University's Medical Cannabis Research Center, and Thomas Jefferson University.
Black Cannabis Week 2023 Part 1: The Virtual Experience
Black Cannabis Week 2023 began on Sunday, September 17th with the exploration of the history of cannabis, featuring Dewey Thomas, Director of Education at DACO, and James Padilioni, Professor of Religion & Environmental Studies at Swarthmore College. From that day through Thursday, September 21st, Black Cannabis Week virtual panels consisted of:
Cannabis and Family
With panelists: Brittany Angelica, Founder of CannaBspa; Kiara Jefferson, Cannabis Coach and Advocate, and owner of the Cannabis Literacy Network; Tee Marie Hanible, Cannabis Coach and Advocate, and owner of the Cannabis Literacy Network; and Tori Terrick, Oracle Artist and Ritual Guide.
With panelists: Jimmy Lane, VP of Operations for Fully Baked Brands; Mila Marshall, Environmental Professor & Journalist; David Nicolas, CEO of Prolific Grow House; and Antione Pritchett, CEO and Managing Partner of Renee and Andria Health LLC.
With panelists and moderator: Jo Jo Simmons, Advocate and Founder of 3isfor; Loriel Alegrete, Co-founder and CEO for 40 Tons Brand; and Rianna Young, Founder and CEO of Happy Hounds CBD.
With panelists: Al Karma, Founder and CEO of Spark; Tavian Crosland, Equity Director for the Social Equity Empowerment Network; and LaWann Stribling, owner of Strib’ble Farms.
The topics were much needed, the conversations had to be had, the passion had to ooze out of them so that listeners could not just hear, but also feel the importance of us getting our slice of the pie and ways to go about that.
The Black Cannabis Week team, led by Brandi Hester and DACO founder Cherron Perry-Thomas, is exceptional; they have provided the virtual panels above on their website so readers can tap in and catch up! Tune in to the Black Cannabis Week virtual panels conversations and catch up on what's happening and what's coming.
Black Cannabis Week 2023 Part 2: The In-Person Conference At Temple University, Day 1
September 22-24, three days of excellence were planned, organized, and delivered by the Black Cannabis Week team; what a group! They thought of everything and everyone. The three days started with a motivating roundtable that focused on the following topics: the role of policy, federal policy, responsible consumption, cannabis education, cannabis and real estate, insurance and public and administration.
The Experience Roundtable speakers included:
- Gibran Washington, CEO of Ethos
- Cat Parker, Director of Drug Markets and Legal Regulation at the Drug Policy Alliance
- Dr. Bridget Cole, MD, Board Certified in Family Medicine and author of, Courage in Cannabis
- Kevin Greene, Vice President of Cleveland School of Cannabis
- Thunder Walker, founder of the Thunder Walker Experience
- Jeff Booker, Founder and COO of CannaCoverage Insurance
- Mariah Shaw, Director of Government Affairs at Terrapin Care Station
Rooted And Invested Pitch Contest
The Rooted and Invested Pitch Contest was one of the most inspiring sessions of Day 1. Passion, inspiration, and support filled the glowing room while each business owner took the stage to pitch their products/services for their chance to raise capital: Best Dirty Lemonade (award winner), Lockgreen (award winner), Ouling, Canna House (award winner), and the Thunder Walker Experience.
Each business was in support of the others because although the businesses and the capital needs differed; the roads to launch them are similar and the plight is understood. What they want and need is their slice of the pie and for all the others to get theirs. Though I was watching and listening virtually, I could feel the energy come through the screen to hug me.
Forging Into The Future: Black Voices In Cannabis Policy
Forging into the Future: the Black Voices in Cannabis Policy panel had me clapping and fist pumping. The conversation, tone, and sentiments expressed were all necessary. With a focus on: rescheduling, descheduling, what real social equity looks like, putting our leaders to work, not chasing equity but instead establishing it in the beginning, and reunification of families; the motivation left on the table was enough for the entire room to feast on.
The panelists, all big names in cannabis, recognized in multiple industries, and taking the fight for cannabis to the state house and the White House:
- Chelsea Higgs Wise (moderator), co-founder of Marijuana Justice Virginia
- Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, New York State Assembly Majority Leader
- Gary Chambers Jr., former U.S. Senate candidate, founder of Bigger Than Me and Co-founder of The Rouge Collection
- Sephida Artis-Mills, Co-founder and President of the United Empowerment Party
- Dasheeda Dawson, Founding Director of Cannabis NYC
- Attorney Scheril Murray Powell, ESQ, COO of JUSTUS Foundation
- Shekia Scott, Cannabis Business Manager in the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion, Boston, Massachusetts
Cannabis Policy Reform
The last panel of day 1 was the Cannabis Policy Reform panel, all speakers are state of Pennsylvania politicians and was moderated by Senator Sharif Street of Pennsylvania’s 3rd District. This panel caught my attention because of the table of politicians advocating on behalf of cannabis. The conversation focused on: not repeating the mistakes of equity, expungements, and making sure the industry is inclusive.
This isn’t the norm in the United States and I was happy to see it!
The panelists included:
- Danilo Burgos, Pennsylvania 197th District, State House of Representatives
- Chris Rabb, Pennsylvania 200th District, State House of Representatives
- Darisha Parker, Pennsylvania 198th District, State House of Representatives
- Donna Johnson Bullock, Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Chairwoman, 195th District, State House of Representatives
2o23 DACO Awards
Day 1 closed with the 2023 DACO Awards:
- The Social Justice Award, presented to Dasheeda Dawson; The Weedhead & Company
- The Economics Opportunities Award, presented to Keith Walker; K. Walker Events
- The Affinity Award, presented to Redman; United Empowerment Party
- The Rise Up Award, presented to Precious Brown; Entertaining and Elevating With Cannabis (EEWC)
Black Cannabis Week 2023 Part 3: The In-Person Conference At Temple University, Day 2
Keynote Mini Nuggets
The Keynote Mini Nuggets raised the vibration in the room. From Roz McCarthy, Founder of Minorities For Medical Marijuana (M4MM); to Karen Meshkov of KMesh Cann Coaching & Consulting, discussing cannabis career myths; to the Dank Duchess dropping gems on the economics of solventless production, it was a day full of information provided to a room full of people grateful to receive it.
Wellness, Mental Health, And Therapeutic Benefits Of Cannabis
There was a needed focus and discussion on wellness, mental health, and the therapeutic benefits of cannabis explored with Sonia Singh, LCSW, LCADC; Dr. Bridgette Cole, founder and CEO of Green Harvest Health; Patricia A. Patton, founder of the Cannabis Business Alliance; and Thunder Walker, Founder of the Thunder Walker Experience.
Boss Bootcamp focused on monetizing media, first impressions, and blending skills and passion with FlowerHire, Cash Color Cannabis, and Jah Green, and why MMJ patients matter with Precious Brown, EEWC; Dr. Lindsay T. Blunt with Trulieve; Ferdinand Irizarry aka Tito, Cannabis Educator at Curaleaf New Jersey; and Phil Charles, CEO of Black Cannabis.
Homecoming: Legacy To Legal
Homecoming, where legacy transitioned into legal, was exciting. We heard from moderator Phillip Ellison, Co-Director of Joe’s Barbershop; Matha Figaro, co-founder of CannPowerment and founder of But-A-Cake; James Jackson, Head Cultivator at Yerrr; Vic Styles, founder of Black Girls Smoke; and Breanna Neff, founder of Brelixi.
What Did Speakers Have To Say About Black Cannabis Week 2023?
Leena and Dom chatted with speakers/panelists in Philadelphia to hear what they had to say about why Black Cannabis Week is important, what messages they were there to deliver, and what they were there to learn.
Matha Figaro, CannPowerment and But-A-Cake
Being the first minority woman manufacturer to legally operate in Delaware's medical market and the first minority woman edibles brand legally sold in the state, it's important that I continue to bust those doors wide open with CannPowerment, and keep them open so that diversity can THRIVE in this legal space just as it always has before that.
Thunder Walker, The Thunder Walker Experience
Black Cannabis Week provides the flowers for my community and promises kept! It’s the juice we need to go back into the cannabis ecosystem where we are not strongly represented and be the light that guides the next generation to the Green Zone. We have always known and loved the plant but now we have the opportunity to be open without oppression.
Senator Sharif Street, Pennsylvania State Senate, 3rd District
It’s important to move to recreational/adult use and legalization because Black and brown [people] are still at risk. Everyone needs to have access and legislation has to be set up the right way.
Tai’rek Pace, Brand Coordinator, Euphoria Wellness
Black Cannabis Week is important, for the simple reason, WE need more education about spaces we have influenced and pushed forward with culture alone. We should understand legislative language, terpenes etc, as well as we know who has the best “gas”; what makes that gas? Let’s learn more about the plant and industry, Black Cannabis Week does that for me!
DACO Team And Black Cannabis Week Organizers
People provided positive energy and feedback on how much this is needed in our community. Funding is just part of the large mountain of support needed. We hope that we shined a bright light on the urgency for centering Black voices when it comes to cannabis. Black Cannabis Week is committed to making sure that we see us in this space; for us, by us. We hope to see everyone next year and the ones that follow.
Special Thanks To Cannabis Business Sponsors
Thank you to the following sponsors!
Weedgets is a company making accessories designed to eliminate the harshness of smoke with advanced smoke filtration and cooling technology.
Higher Maintenance CBD is a company making plant based products and infusing them with USDA Certified Organic PremiumCBD: full and broad spectrum: gummies, tinctures, syrups, beauty products and more.
Thank you to additional Black Cannabis Week support sponsors for the Traveling Cannabis Writer brand:
Veronica Castillo is the Traveling Cannabis Writer from Miami, with a pre-cannabis and psychedelics background in insurance and human resources. Currently, she is a resident of the road covering cannabis, psychedelics, and plant-based lifestyles all over the U.S and soon abroad. Follow her journey on IG at @vee_travelingvegcannawriter and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vee-traveling-veg-canna-writer/
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Featured image: Magical Goddess Dom (left), Black Cannabis Week organizer Brandi Hester @theycallme_mahoganypen (center), and Leena Trinidad (right) at Temple University (C) Black Cannabis Week