Caroline Phillips, founder and owner of the National Cannabis Festival, is on a mission to make policy information accessible to the public in fun, memorable ways. Since 2016, she and her team have organized annual gatherings of the NCF, the largest cannabis music festival on the East Coast with over 5000 attendees each year.
What Is the National Cannabis Festival?
The National Cannabis Festival includes a full-day concert and outdoor expo that put the spotlight on social justice and education for the cannabis community. For 2022, NCF has expanded to a weeklong affair with events commencing in Washington, D.C. April 16th, meaning it will be the biggest celebration yet.
2022 Concert: Wiz Khalifa, Ghostface Killah, Lettuce and More
This latest iteration features international music icon Wiz Khalifa as the headlining artist for the main concert, with guest performances by the Wu-Tang Clan’s frontman Ghostface Killah, funk band Lettuce, and the nationally-acclaimed Farrah Flossett. Def Jam legend Slick Rick and D.C. sensation DJ Footwerk take center stage on April 24th when, festival goers will also enjoy the inaugural National Cannabis Championship, an award show honoring the best cannabis and hemp cultivators from the East Coast.
National Cannabis Policy Summit 2022
On Friday April 22nd, Phillips and the National Cannabis Festival staff will host the National Cannabis Policy Summit, which brings together diverse panelists for action-oriented dialogues around the most pressing issues surrounding legalization. Past summits have featured politicians from the federal, state and local levels; top cannabis entrepreneurs and advocates; medical experts, and many more.
Who Will Be Speaking at the National Cannabis Policy Summit 2022?
This year, speakers will include:
Barbara Lee, U.S. Representative (D-CA) and co-chair of the House Cannabis Caucus
Nancy Mace, U.S. Representative (R-SC) and sponsor of the States Reform Act to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act
Gary Chambers, U.S. Senate candidate (D-LA) and civil rights activist
Dasheeda Dawson, Cannabis Program Manager for the City of Portland
Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
And many more!
Where Will National Cannabis Festival 2022 Events Be Held?
You can find the National Cannabis Festival happening at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington, D.C. on Saturday April 23rd. The National Cannabis Policy Summit will be held on Friday April 22nd at The Amphitheater in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Day Two of the National Cannabis Festival's concert will be held at Echostage, one of the largest concert venues in the D.C. area.
For more information on the full schedule of events beginning April 16, visit the NCF calendar page.
National Cannabis Festival Founder Caroline Phillips on What's New for 2022
Honeysuckle got the advance scoop on this year’s NCF as Phillips joined us to answer some of the biggest questions about what to expect for the best of the fest.
HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: What are you looking forward to most about this year’s National Cannabis Festival?
CAROLINE PHILLIPS: So many things! I'm super-excited about our concert line-up. Having Wiz Khalifa headlining the event is a dream, and having his performance supported by Lettuce and Ghostface is going to be the best vibe.
In addition to our concert line-up, I'm always excited about our education programs. This year, NCF programming kicks off on April 16th with our 4/20 Week events which take place at Eaton DC. We'll be hosting panel discussions, elevated yoga sessions, sound baths and more. On Friday, April 22, we're bringing back the National Cannabis Policy Summit, an event that's free to attend and features members of Congress and thought leaders from across the nation. On Saturday, April 23rd, join us at the National Cannabis Festival at RFK Stadium for the full festival, including five education pavilions covering policy, cannabis culture, wellness, cultivation and culinary arts.
The biggest change for NCF this year is the addition of the National Cannabis Championship Awards Show at Echostage on Sunday, April 24th. We'll be recognizing the best cannabis cultivators in the region and partying with performances from Slick Rick and Footwerk.
How do you select each year’s National Cannabis Festival and National Cannabis Policy Summit agenda?
Our program planning process is very collaborative. Our advocacy committee is responsible for much of the education program you'll see at the festival. Starting a few months before NCF, they submit ideas and start inviting speakers to share information on policy issues impacting folks across the United States. The rest of our programming is community-generated throughout the Session Selector Contest. Cannabis community members have the opportunity to submit ideas to be featured at NCF. Last year, we had the most incredible selection of talks ranging from nursing and mental health to state policy to home growing and regenerative agriculture. I like to say that my team's job is to provide the best platform for our community to share knowledge and ideas, and I think the Session Selector Contest helps us accomplish that.
What elements are most important to you in the legal industry?
In addition to my work on NCF, I'm also the Deputy Director and on the Executive Board for Supernova Women, a nonprofit with the mission of empowering Black and Brown people to become self-sufficient shareholders in the cannabis economy. Recently, we released the first-ever Social Equity Impact Analysis Report, a tool that we hope provides advocates data that shows the potential ROI [return on investment] that a state or municipality can see with a social equity program that supports and creates sustainable businesses for owner/operators.
You were the first Black woman in the cannabis industry to produce an event this size. What are your thoughts on being a woman and person of color working in the industry today? How have things changed over the years?
When I started my work on NCF [in 2015], I didn't really think about the fact that I'd be creating a business in two industries - music and cannabis - that lack representation of women and Black and Brown people in leadership positions. Six years in, I am starting to find my footing in the live events and music industries. Recently, I was asked to be a Chapter Leader for D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia for the National Independent Venue Association. That was a huge honor for me and I'm excited to work with the organization to help deliver resources and advocate for independent venues and promoters in the region.
In the cannabis industry, I've been fortunate to find a great network of people to mentor and support me. One of those networks is Supernova Women, which has allowed me to learn from some of the best and brightest advocates and business leaders in the cannabis industry. Not only do we work together to empower Black and Brown owner/operators in the industry, but we also work to help and advance each other's work.
Being a Black Woman in the cannabis industry mirrors the challenges that women of color face in many other industries. We are still fighting to get our seat at the table and to make sure that seat is impactful and not ornamental.
What do you see as the future of NCF?
I'm very hopeful for the future of NCF. We've been blessed to be able to create and expand our program in Washington, D.C., and it would be amazing to take programs like the Summit, and eventually the festival, to other cities. I hope that we can continue to grow NCF to be a destination event for cannabis advocates and enthusiasts from around the world.
For more information about NCF, visit nationalcannabisfestival.com. And check out Honeysuckle's National Cannabis Festival Printed Program Guide while you're there. Get ready for some sexy designs!
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A version of this article first appeared in Honeysuckle's Black History Month print edition, featuring Wiz Khalifa! Buy your copy now and stay tuned for our 420 issue featuring Lil Wayne and Young Money.