Honeysuckle is proud to present Trailblazers’ Authentic Voices: Pride ‘22 “Sweet Sixteen” series! Get to know sixteen LGBTQIA+ cannabis industry leaders who inspire us. Click here to find all their stories.
A Pride Month Message From Trailblazers Co-Founder Tyler Wakstein
Trailblazers is a curated community of cannabis and psychedelic business leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators who work together to advance the industry. We are unified by a shared ethos and vision of the future of plant medicine and other alternative healing modalities. We are a group of leaders and visionaries from across the entire ecosystem - from brands, to operators, to investment banks, MSOs, policy and law makers, scientists and researchers. We believe in creating a new paradigm of doing business - where collaboration, authentic connections and an abundance mindset drives the industry. We believe equality, social equity, and justice are not just something to pay lip service to, but rather the cost of entry into cannabis or hemp at large. We are honored to celebrate PRIDE Month with Honeysuckle Magazine and want to help empower the next generation of change-makers and emerging leaders in cannabis through access to the Trailblazers platform. Diversity drives innovation within a community like ours and we recommend applying to our fellowship program if anyone is interested in getting involved. trailblazerspresents.com/trailblazers-fellowship
Interested in finding out more about Trailblazers NYC, coming July 27, 2022? For details, click here.
Meet Timeka Drew, Founder And CEO Of Biko
Timeka Drew is the founder and CEO of Biko Flower, a social equity cannabis brand based in Los Angeles. She is also the Chief Growth Officer of NUG, a vertically-integrated California retailer. Drew was an early entrant into the legal cannabis industry, forming a delivery service for a medical cannabis patient collective some years before California legalized adult-use.
In her words: “BIKO serves cannabis connoisseurs with consistency and award-winning production quality, while helping normalize Black women as curators of luxury cannabis experiences. Through our products and our voice, BIKO exists to create a safe space for growth within the industry, and work to build with underrepresented brands and businesses through partnership and collaboration.”
TRAILBLAZERS: What is something unique that you bring to your work and the greater cannabis industry overall from your previous work or life experience?
Cannabis saved my life. As a medical patient who was suffering immensely with Crohn’s Disease (an autoimmune and gastrointestinal disease), I eventually relied on cannabis to heal my body and enable me to grow a family and a career - first in the nonprofit world serving the national grassroots democracy movement, and now in the cannabis industry. I have an unrelenting passion to help destigmatize, normalize and celebrate the cannabis plant, a powerful medicinal herb that is full of magic and possibility.
Why are you passionate about being part of the cannabis industry?
For me, cannabis is more than a commodity or a fun consumable good - it is a part of my biological and spiritual life in all ways. I know that my ancestors utilized the cannabis plant and I know that the cannabis plant is one that was relied on by women for centuries as a gentle herbal treatment for many ailments. I am honored to be able to celebrate this plant and my journey with it now, as a part of the cannabis industry.
What does Pride mean to you personally? How are you celebrating or championing Pride through your company, the communities you do business in, or the industry overall?
So many of us in the queer community have relied on safe spaces where we can be our whole selves - where rejection of various forms of oppression is not only accepted, but celebrate and supported. This creation of a powerful, safe space no matter where we live, learn or work is the epitome of Pride. I also think it is important to remember how critical the advocacy of the queer community was in ensuring access to medical cannabis in California, which was the catalyst for medical and adult-use regulations across the country. Demanding the ability to access cannabis in order to treat individuals suffering from HIV and AIDS was a courageous and necessary part of cannabis history. It’s one that I am proud to have been a part of, as a part of the medical community that was recruiting doctors to offer medical cannabis recommendations to low-income patients at a discount and helping establish donation programs to gift cannabis to the patients who most needed it. We have to remember that the fight for cannabis access has been a queer-led fight from the beginning and continue to look towards the queer community for leadership and innovation when it comes to normalization and de-stigmatization.
How are you supporting the advancement of LGBTQIA+ diversity, equity and inclusion efforts?
I think that normalization of each individual as whole, worthy and unique, is a part of how I support the queer community. As a queer woman living a seemingly heteronormative existence with my husband and four children, I think it is important to represent the reality of the diversity in this industry and society in general. People are complex and multifaceted; complexity adds to the beauty and experience of life, it does not detract from it.
What is one of your favorite LGBTQIA+ organizations to support?
The Social Impact Center is a queer-led nonprofit organization, “centered in transformative justice healing communities impacted by the War on Drugs. We achieve this goal by advancing equity and corporate social responsibility in the cannabis industry and by providing education, opportunities for healing, and community building initiatives for our communities.” They have organized tirelessly for equity, reinvestment, accountability and expungement.
What’s your favorite LGBTQIA+-produced cannabis product that isn’t from your brand?
Hands down, SONDER Space Crystals - Popping Cannabis Sublingual Crystals is a product I can’t do without. I buy them by the dozens and I stock up whenever they are on sale. This product is deliciously potent and very satisfying to the senses. I was introduced to this unique sublingual the first time I met Langanja Estranja, who was generous enough to gift me a shiny pack and I have been in love ever since. I met their founders recently at a Puff Haus event and got a chance to learn more about their incredible story and the trials and tribulations they faced while building their brand. Faun Chapin and M. Paradise are such powerful, inspirational trailblazers in this space that help light a fire inside of women like me to continue forward and build bold and fearlessly no matter how difficult the path may seem.
Cannabis is all about community. What partnership opportunities with other companies have allowed you to create something even better than imagined due to your combined efforts?
At Biko, we are passionate about curating beautiful and effective cannabis flower to share with our community. We recently partnered with cannabis cultivator Midnight Gardens to lift up their unique Sun + Earth Certified, Clean Green Certified full season flower by highlighting their Raspberry Parfait strain to launch our Red Series Select line. We find it incredibly important to shine a light on the beauty of regenerative cannabis and help educate consumers about how full season flower can stand beside light assisted and indoor flower when grown with the proper knowledge and intention. This special product was on display at Hall of Flowers for retailers and influencers to learn about, and we were incredibly proud it was first sold at the Grand Opening of Green Qween in Los Angeles.
What advice would you give to others who wish to join the cannabis industry and follow in your footsteps?
Remember that everyone you meet is likely someone you will meet again and again. Cannabis is a small industry and you end up dealing with everyone more than once. Be careful not to burn bridges because you never know who you might need down the road and recognize that we are all learning and will all make some mistakes along the way.
What are you most excited to see more of in cannabis next year?
I look forward to seeing more collaboration and community-building that leads to the ability to compete with generational wealth and big corporate greed. I know that we are stronger together, and we will find ways to continue to survive and thrive in the face of a looming recession within this fledgling new industry burdened with tax and banking issues.
Learn more about Trailblazers by visiting trailblazerspresents.com. You can find out more about Biko at bikoflower.com. To learn how to support The Social Impact Center, visit thesocialimpactcenter.org.
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Timeka Drew, founder and CEO of Biko (C) Biko