Leafwire’s Official MJBizCon 2022 After Party List

After parties are a huge part of the week as we all descend upon Las Vegas this November. Not sure where to go after a long day at the expo? We’ve got you covered. Check out the Leafwire official MJBizCon 2022 After Party List! Some of them are private and require additional approval, but some are open to all.

NameDateTimeLocationLink
Blunt BrunchNovember 15th12pm-5pmIPEC Las VegasRSVP
INCBA Solicitors SoiréeNovember 15th6pm-8pmMJBizConRSVP
PSYC’ed: Hip-Hop & Poetry NightNovember 15th6pm-9pmBrooklyn BowlRSVP
MCBA MJBiz Kick Off PartyNovember 15th7pm-9pmTBARSVP
Vicente Sederberg Meet & GreetNovember 16th3pm-5pmThe CosmopolitanRSVP
End the Day on a High NoteNovember 16th6pm-10pmParis Hotel RooftopRSVP
Cannabis Marketing ReceptionNovember 16th6pm-8pmMargaritaville on the StripRSVP
THC Girls the Necessary PartyNovember 16th6pm-10pmTBARSVP
Sensi Soiree at MJBizConNovember 16th6pm-9pmThe STRATRSVP
COVA “Back to the 80s” After PartyNovember 16th7pm-12amThe DoyleRSVP
The Grasslands PartyNovember 16th8pm-12am18BinRSVP
THC Girls Industry NiteNovember 17th6pm-10pmTBARSVP
DanksgivingNovember 17th8pm-12amOmnia Nightclub TerraceRSVP
High Times Biz Bash 4.0November 17th8pm-12amBrooklyn BowlRSVP
Hush House: A High Hustler AffairNovember 17th8pm-12amTBARSVP
Shangri-LaNovember 17th8pm-12amThe IndustrialRSVP

Once you RSVP, share which after parties you’re going to by making a post on the Leafwire news feed!

CannaCon The Nation’s Leading Cannabis Conference and Expo Comes to the Colorado Convention Center


With Colorado continuing to be a leader in the legal cannabis market, CannaCon brings its unique brand of cannabis conferences to Denver September 24th-25th. Join CannaCon in the state where it all began and seize your opportunity to grow the industry with us. 

CannaCon West will provide a B2B venue for cannabis businesses, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders to showcase products, services, innovations and technology. CannaCon features some of the world’s best genetics, the latest in growing and extraction products, dispensary displays, POS systems, and so much more. 

You’ll also have the opportunity to immerse yourself in learning from industry experts in the CannaCon Seminar Series. Offering seminars on overcoming Manufacturing and Supply Chain Challenges and Tips, Seed to sale sustainability, and the one and only Pot Brothers at Law.

Shop directly from the manufacturer on our expo floor, learn from leading industry experts at our seminars and network with thousands of like minded individuals at CannaCon West. 

“CannaCon is the most amazing business to business cannabis convention of mainstream America”
Marc Wasserman of The Pot Brothers at Law

“The most fun you can have at a cannabis event. The best networking opportunity in the industry – by leaps and bounds.”
Thomas Warinner MOBIUS

Contact | Angelle Grelle | angela@cannacon.org

Use code LEAF30 for 30% off!

Walking Our Talk: Beyond Equity Panels

Almost weekly there’s a panel, podcast, or other event where the importance of social equity is emphasized. People from all backgrounds are getting into the conversation. (Please note; people from systematically marginalized communities experience an extra burden when advocating for their own right to equity). Businesses across industries understand that at least acknowledging the importance of racial equity is key to their success these days, even if they do so with surface-level DEI initiatives.. According to Forbes, more than half of Americans think CEOs should be actively anti-racist, but 44% of people don’t think the business community has done enough to address systemic racism. 

While discussing the realities of systemic racism is an essential step, it doesn’t necessarily equate to impact. Cannabis Doing Good’s sister non-profit, Cannabis Impact Fund, released an Anti-Racism Guide for Cannabusinesses in 2021. The guide identifies 3 steps in the “Rinse and Repeat” of racial equity, meaning it’s iterative, and ongoing. It took us a long time to get here. Walking these steps allows us to exit the loop of endless conversation and enter reparative change for the Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people most impacted by oppressive systems, and for white folks who do not benefit from these limited systems either. In cannabis, we can be a part of creating something that has not been created before. It’s good for business and good for people.

Step 1: Commit. Deciding to begin is the first step in any journey. Stepping into commitment requires acknowledging all the ugly truths of systemic racism. Just like the hardest part of a workout can be getting to the gym; looking at the oppressive systems we all grew up with can be overwhelming. I didn’t choose them and neither did you, but we are disruptors, or we wouldn’t be in cannabis. Let’s disrupt. Anti-racism is not for the faint of heart, we will be imperfect. Progress not perfection is what we are looking for. WE will be imperfect in the community so we can walk together in it. Commitment will ask you for a lifetime of dismantling those oppressive systems we all inherited. We recommend beginning longevity practices like shame resilience and nervous system regulation now. In addition, find support amongst other white folks taking this journey. Groups like SURJ are dedicated to white folks working against racial injustice. 

Step 2: Educate & Assess. “All learning happens through culture.”-Zaretta Hammond, consultant at Center for Collaborative Classrooms. We’ve learned through the cultures we grew up in, cultures that were rooted in systemic racism. Naturally, those oppressive systems translate into our workplace. We need to apply a strategic lense towards pinpointing where racism and inequities exist in ourselves and the workplace. I highly suggest consulting with a racial equity expert to help educate, illuminate your blindspots, and co-create effective strategies for building an actively antiracist company culture. A good start is Cannabis Doing Good’s Racial Equity Self Assessment. Doing good isn’t only a moral imperative. Blueboard Inc. recently released a study showing that 60% of employees would leave a workplace where they didn’t feel they belonged. Belonging starts with culture and anti-racism gets to the root of inequity, creating belonging for women, LGBTQIA+, differently-abled people, religious diversity, and folks of all ages. 

Step 3: Implement. Ah implementation. Here’s where we see some break throughs and some break downs.. Lots of companies have taken steps to commit and educate themselves on anti-racism. After all, Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is projected to be an $8.6 billion dollar industry by 2026, but DEI is how you measure whether your efforts are moving toward an antiracist culture. They are not the end game. We haven’t seen the needle move on diversity, equity or inclusion because we aren’t likely measuring the right outcomes. . A cannabis business that knows its history,and recognizes  the racialized harm done to roll out a legal cannabis industry is empowered to make change. We are still subjected to all-of-the-other systems connected to a regulated market–that are built on oppressive policies and inherently antiblack. We can’t focus just on social equity applicants and think that they have the power to change “credit worthiness,” or even investor networks. We have lived in very different worlds with very different access points and privileges.  Businesses, banking, credit, all of these systems have elements of racism inherent to their function, part of their foundation. We, as cannabis folks, get to continue disrupting, and do what we can to shed light on inequitable elements that this cannabis experiment has shown us. It’s our privilege to operate here, in a place that still costs folks their lives. Here’s the sticking point with implementation; power sharing. We live in a culture that has established a system of privilege and scarcity based on race and gender. Meaning if you give up privilege you’re bound to face scarcity. Many white leaders have walked the path to active anti-racism and been met with the fear for their own financial well being if they relinquish some power. We do this together in cannabis. Clear-eyed and in community, we chip away at the parts we can see. 

“When we know better, we do better”–thanks Maya Angelou.

Unwrapping MJ Unpacked, the Cannabis Industry’s Most Inventive Conference

While large-scale cannabis related conference events bring mass attention and large groups together to network, they can sometimes lose focus and intention for specific goals. And while there’s a place for smaller, concentrated, sometimes vertical events, their focus can often be too narrow to accommodate enough people to be justify the return on investment to attend. Which leaves a space in the middle to invent something entirely different to create, develop, and host.

Enter MJ Unpacked, the first of its kind event that ties together various concepts such as panels, booths, exhibition halls, meetings, networking, and investors in a simplified format with a highly focused audience.

MJ Unpacked returns to Las Vegas for its second West Coast show and third offering since its well-received conception in 2021. The conference is coming to the MGM Grand Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, September 28th-30th, 2022.

Cannabis owners, executives, and accredited investors from across the country will convene, connect, and conduct business together once again. September’s Unpacked is set to be the biggest show to date both in size and features.

The effort of producers Kim Jage and George Jage, MJ Unpacked is a cannabis conference that, unlike others, is focused on featuring THC brands from all over the country. A carefully curated event, attendance is exclusive to cannabis retail and brand executives with the title manager and above, and family offices, personal or private investment funds, hedge funds, and venture capitalists actively investing in the space. The idea is that every attendee is some form of a decision-maker.

The latter Jage is no stranger to the cannabis industry, or bringing world-class B2B events to the space. Marijuana movers and shakers are still feeling his influence from his three-year stint as president of MJ Biz Daily and his assistance in helping mold its famous MJBizCon conference, recently acquired by tradeshow and media company Emerald X, a subsidiary of Emerald Holding.

After helping the conference series grow to become the industry’s largest, Jage sought to find gaps within the cannabis B2B event space. The Jage Media team spent some time in the lab, talking to CEOs and executives to find what this industry needed in the ever-crowded event sector. The common feedback was brands and retailers wanted to connect with one another. There was a clear need for executives from the two backbones of this industry to connect without unaffiliated onlookers and consumers–they wanted business and networking.

With a specific audience group, Unpacked is able to efficiently tackle multiple angles of industry networking leading with value and purpose. This conference is designed to be a massive room full of individuals who should all know one another, and are brought together to do so.

MJ Unpacked – NYC 2022, George Jage Interview with Mitch Pfeifer, Founder and CEO, Respect My Region

Unpacking the MJ Unpacked Experience

In the two previous events, attendees could browse the lounge, find a meeting room, sit in on a panel discussion, walk the show floor, browse the brand exhibition hall, or simply approach anyone for a conversation. And the lobby bar-like layout of the main networking area is extremely comfortable and conducive to that type of discussion, featuring cocktail tables, with soft couches and seating.

Unique to the MJ Unpacked experience are features like a brand exhibition hall featuring small footprint glass showcases for brands to feature their products without having to pay for an expensive booth, handing out swag, taking up valuable space. Instead, QR codes are used to provide product and contact information, and connect with retailers, potential license partners, and investors without being tethered to a booth.

Larger booths are available, but uniform and turn-key, used mainly by ancillary companies and larger brands. The event also offers premium 20 x 20 exhibits and executive board rooms for larger MSOs.

Panels include diverse line-ups of creditable speakers from across the country who never pay to stand on stage to present. The organization hand selects speakers based on topics that can genuinely help other colleagues in the industry, not self-serve the company represented by the speaker presenting.

Brands are brought face-to-face not only with potential investors, but with both large and independent retail operators. At MJ Unpacked, it’s not uncommon for them to gain insight into new markets, meet new distributors, and strike new licensing deals. Investors in attendance also include those looking to partner with retailers seeking to expand and buyers looking to acquire.

And Unpacked’s showroom floor also wouldn’t be complete without the gong. Sounds ringing from the gong indicate that a business deal has been done on the show floor.

And lastly, no registration lines. MJ Unpacked mails attendees their badges in a simple, efficient way of alleviating the headache of standing in long, winding lines to pick up a conference badge.

Building upon two successful shows, it’s no surprise that MJ Unpacked is onto something special and has clearly filled a much-needed gap in the industry. The Jage’s goal is to maintain MJ Unpacked as a bicoastal, biannual show in both Las Vegas and New York each year.

Here’s what this year’s conference was like in New York City, and the organization is expecting to see more of the same excitement, with even more attendees in Las Vegas 2022.

MJ Unpacked 2022 NYC Official Video

Everything is Everything: The Hidden Hideouts of Systemic Racism

A teacher of mine says, “everything is everything” as a way to explain the often inexplicable connections we have to each other and every living thing. For better or for worse, everything is connected. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) agency to set climate standards for power plants in the same week; I said to myself, “everything is everything.” 

On the surface these court actions may seem totally unrelated but let’s trace back how they originate from the same source. (psst, it starts with Institutional white supremacy culture and systemic racism). Side note, if you’re white and reading this, I encourage you to remember that I am pinpointing an overarching system. A system you did not create but can perpetuate or more excitingly, disrupt with your actions. In addition, ALL of us  were born into oppressive culture and systems, so much so that even Black and POC must unlearn its propaganda.  

Now, back to the connection between abortion rights, EPA, and institutional white supremacy. In both instances people from several groups most targeted by systemic oppression (Black, POC, trans, poor) will pay the highest price. Here are a few stats to illustrate the connection further. 

  1. The notion of body autonomy originated in the US as a result of the 14th Amendment which stated that formerly enslaved Black people would finally access family rights such as; marriage, raising their own children, and control over their own bodies. 
  2. Black child birthers are 3x more likely to die in childbirth than white counterparts.
  3. In a 2015 study, 23% of trans people avoided pregnancy care for fear of being mistreated. 
  4. Black people are 40% more likely to live in areas with increased climate related deaths and Latinx people are 43% more likely to live in areas with decreased work due to climate change. 
  5. Climate change and anti-abortion is a poverty trap. 

The stats are uncomfortable to read but it’s important to understand the connection. The web of  oppressive culture stretches even wider than this. Our obsession with thinness (fatphobia), beauty standards, ableism, and productivity all stem from this same origin point. I’m not saying stop taking care of your body or stop setting business goals. I am saying actively ask yourself…is racism or oppressive thinking hiding here? As a quick tool, Cannabis Doing Good offers a Racial Equity Business Assessment to help you find out and plan your action towards equity.This tools calls us into reflection and offers powerful insights for how to move forward.

Now that the groundwork has been laid, I want to leave you with a few more ideas for tangible antiracist actions (for individuals or businesses) to disrupt institutional white supremacy and oppressive culture. 

  1. Read the works of Black, POC, LGBTQIA+, fat, and differently-abled leaders.
  2. Work with experts in equity such as Cannabis Doing Good, the Gemini Group, Regan Byrd, or Zoe Williams  to map out a plan for intentional action. We don’t work with them, but want to highlight Tilray for committing to cover their employees travel for abortion services. 
  3. Support reproductive rights and environmental justice organizations; especially those who are led by people from systematically oppressed groups. One near and dear to my heart is Soul 2 Soul Sisters. Also, the National Network for Abortion Funds aggregates the info for over 80 abortion funds. Shoutout Grasslands for their fundraiser in support of Cobalt Abortion Fund
  4. Commit to regular education sessions on antiracism and it’s tangents; environmental justice, reproductive rights, etc. 
  5. Intentionally immerse yourself in environments where you are not the majority (with invitation and consent). 

At CDG, we always talk about the “constellation of good”. We believe every action taken towards antiracism and equity connects. Our industry has an especially potent power to create a legacy of liberation for both people and planet. If you feel called, join the constellation and become a CDG member. Member or not, now is the perfect time for collaborative effort to disrupt systems of oppression. 

What You Can Do for Pride and Juneteenth

I find it more than mere coincidence that Pride and Juneteenth both occur in June. To me their overlap is a kismet reminder of the irrevocable connections of oppression. After all, Marsha P. Johnson a Black trans woman, was one of the first activists to throw a brick at Stonewall on June 28, 1969. Audre Lorde, a Black, lesbian, feminist eluded to the idea of intersectionality as early as 1973 and Professor Kimberle Crenwshaw coined the term in the late 80’s.

Intersectionality defines the increased pressure and danger people who embody multiple marginalized identities experience. To be both Black and trans, or Latinx and differently-abled, or Muslim and larger bodied is to shake the foundation of institutional White Supremacy culture simply for breathing. Pride and Juneteenth are reminders of the daily revolution stirred by existing in Black and LGBTQIA+ bodies. 

We’ve seen a lot of corporations feel the heat this year for seeking to capitalize off of both these sacred celebrations. Walmart released a “Juneteenth” ice cream which has since been pulled from shelves and production. As per usual, “rainbow capitalism” descended in June with companies from Amazon to Disney pushing Pride themed products. These seemingly harmless marketing initiatives are actually insidious because in each instance they are not backed by genuine relationships with the Black or LGBTQIA+ community. Furthermore, if anyone is going to profit off of Juneteenth or Pride it should be the Black and LGBTQIA+ communities respectively. Here’s a few lists of cannabis companies to support this June courtesy of Emerald Magazine and Candescent. (these are the most comprehensive and up-to-date lists we could find but not exhaustive).

As a white person or a white-owned business you may be wondering; what can I do to honor those living at the intersections of oppression?  I’d love to share this list, inspired by the works of Guimel Carvalho and Amy Hogarth at Wayside Youth and Family Network and Aparna Rae of Moving Beyond

  1. Sit with the pain of racism and LGBTQIA+ oppression.
  2. Study the history and work of BlPOC and LGBTQIA+ leaders.
  3. Prioritize addressing racism with the same importance you would for your own well being. 
  4. Make a list of commitments to use your power, privilege, and platforms of power to give space to Black and Brown LGBTQIA+ communities. If you’ve already made this list, take stock of what you’ve taken action on. Where is the gap in your intentions and actions? Find an accountability partner/group and make the list public of how you’ll take action. You CAN do this on social media. 
  5. Ask yourself what white privileges you can give up and then give up those privileges.
  6. Stop talking about how uncomfortable it is to talk about racism or police violence.
  7. Release the fear and guilt about your own internalized white supremacy. Comfort and truth do not coexist. 
  8. Be quiet and listen to Black and Brown LGBTQIA+ about what needs to be done.
  9. Intentionally spend time in places where you’re a minority. Ethnic grocery stores, restaurants, music venues, and intentional community space if you’re invited. 
  10. Hold other white people accountable not on social media, instead with measured voices that call folks in to look and wrestle – to change. We are interested in courageous conversations, in hearing folks out and in allowing themselves to feel terrible and to let that feeling be a crucible for change.

These types of culture overhauls and changes don’t happen in a vacuum or without support. We highly recommend doing this work in the community. On a personal level that looks like accountability partners on a company level we highly recommend working with trained antiracism/anti oppression professionals such as Cannabis Doing Good, Ecquinabis, and The Gemini Group. Also, check out this Pride read from FlowerHire. Together, we do good. 

What the French-Canadians Can Teach Us About Rolling a Proper Pre-Roll

In Quebec, Canada, where companies engaged in scientific (including tech) research and development can often qualify for generous refundable tax credits, engineering excellence abounds. One of the region’s top packaging manufacturing companies is using its expertise, precision engineering, and incentives, to develop the world’s most flexible automated pre-roll making machine.  


A 25-year veteran in the packaging space, Harold Bouchard currently leads Montreal-based Procepak as its President and CEO. The 12-year-old Canadian company is a leader in its space, providing a complete line of packaging automation services in the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and chemical industries.

In November of 2019, he was called by an ex-employee, who said indiscriptively, “I have this machine, it’s a prototype, and I’d like you to have a look at it.”

Bouchard went and see this machine, which was very basic, and not a packaging machine at all–but a machine designed to roll cannabis pre-rolls. “The machine didn’t really work, but but we made it to work,” Bouchard revealed. “I decided to take it and make an industrial version of it.”

Months later, the earliest version (below) resembled something more along the lines of a Star Wars Gonk droid, than today’s sophisticated looking modern counterpart. Generations later, it’s become the flagship product of  PreRoll-Er, the cannabis vertical of Procepack, and a leader in industry sales and processing flexibility.

PreRoll-Er’s first industrial version of its pre-roll machine was in early March 2020.

By the end of 2021, Tilray had replaced its previous, industry-leading competing brand units, with PreRoll-Er machines and written the company a testimonial.

At the writing of this article, the flagship pre-roller is in its fifth-generation, and the company has over 110 machines sold.

So how did a packaging manufacturing company from Quebec, Canada come to develop, from non-functional, highly rudimentary prototype, an industry-leading automatic pre-roll machine in its fifth-generation used by over 100 customers, from small manufacturers to MSOs?

Leveraging Technology for Competitive Advantage

The concept of making pre-rolls uses the same type of technology as packaging, Bouchard told me. Because of this, PreRoll-Er holds a distinct advantage in engineering sophisticated, precision devices, like pre-roll machines, with less development time, and greater agility than their competitors. This has laid the foundation for much of the company’s success.

“We’re using several motors, we’re using PLC programming, we’re using movements, so it’s very similar. The big challenge, and that’s what makes us difficult to beat, is that it takes a good 18-months of hard work to be there.”

“The reason is because you work with something that’s extremely different from one customer to the other. So each customer has its own strain of cannabis. And cannabis is a very difficult product to work with because it’s very sticky,” Bouchard explained.

In the less than three years of development, PreRoll-Er has established some key learnings, making its products stand out in the market.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN

Flexibility Wins

The most distinct competitive differentiator to PreRoll-Er’s pre-rollers is the product’s trademark flexibility. The company’s machines are precisely designed to accommodate the nuances of different strains of cannabis–working just as effectively with extremely sticky flower, to very dry products.

PreRoll-Er studied the industry, consumer trends, existing automatic pre-roll units available on the market, and determined that flexibility in pre-roll production is what manufacturers needed most.

With product versatility as a focus, PreRoll-Er machines were designed to carefully accommodate different shapes of cones, from very slim to wide, to straight cigarette style cones, to blunts. The tooling to switch from one size cone to another was designed to be inexpensive compared to competing solutions, as well.

Be the First of Your Kind

With a constant pulse on the U.S. market, PreRoll-Er built the latest versions of their automatic pre-roll machine to works with infused cannabis, meeting the growing consumer market trend of infused cannabis pre-roll sales. What’s more, the latest generations have a feature now that we can inject concentrate and oil directly in the pre rolls with built into the machine.

Enable Precision

Consumers demand value. If you’re buying a gram pre-roll, it should weigh no less than a gram, be perfectly packed, and deliver a consistent draw and experience. While competing automatic pre-roll machines weigh cannabis flower at the beginning of the rolling process, PreRoll-Er designed and enabled its units to measure the pre-roll after the rolling process, as a built-in quality control.

Build Your Products to Evolve

With multiple engineering groups dedicated to pre-roll machine research and development, PreRoll-Er planned for iterative, generational evolution of its machines. With each machine containing 10 stations, they were designed to be modular for flexibility, upgradability, and affordability.

“Let’s say you take the twisting station and we make a better twister so you can easily replace the old version and put the new one in,” Bouchard explained. “So even a customer that purchased the second machine has the latest version today, because all the hardware was designed that way, and our software is easy to upgrade by remote access through an ethernet connection.”

Exceed Expectations (Even the Toughest Ones)

PreRoll-Er machines were not developed to produce enormous volume, at low quality, but rather, high quality with very little rejection, and unrivaled flexibility handling different strains and sizes. “What we can create with this machine, even myself at one point, I couldn’t believe it,” Bouchard told me.

The company had a field expert come in who didn’t believe that an automated machine could make precision quality pre-rolls. “We created one, he went out and said, ‘Let me smoke to make sure it’s okay.,'” Bouchard recollected. “He came back and said he wanted it a bit smoother–not as hard. And we changed it and he couldn’t believe it. Even the twists, we can make perfect twists. So those are the things that we differentiate ourselves, too. This is where this machine shines a lot.”

Iterative Improvement

While PreRoll-Er’s pre-roll machines place focus on precision and versatility, they still produce a steady output at 1,400 units per hour. The company’s next generation of high-speed units will more than double that production capacity at 3,000 units per hour.

ESTABLISHED AND EXPANDING

Today, PreRoll-Er is successful in Canada, especially in Eastern Canada, with a solid footprint in U.S. recreational marijuana states, including California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, and others.

“In Quebec, we own probably 80% of the market of bureaus with our machines because we’re local,” Bouchard said, “And in Ontario we’re very well aware also we’re doing extremely well with customers. We’re probably at 70%, 60, 70% and then in the U.S. it’s probably 15% maybe, so there’s a lot of room to grow.”

PreRoll-Er is focused on United States expansion over the next 12-months with the objective to reach an 80% U.S. to 20% Canadian customer footprint, and has a new facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.


The PreRoll-ER 200

The PreRoll-Er 200 comes with automatic and semi-automatic options and is the company’s flagship product. It is a pre-roll machine for cones and cylinders and works with all type of strains, including infused cannabis, producing up to 1,300 pre-rolls per hour, with a guaranteed a weight of 0.01 g before and after filling.

The Good News – What DEI Needs to Succeed

Have you ever lit a joint without fire? (play along with an old school cannabis lover) You could have the finest flower perfectly rolled, but without some sort of flame…no smoke to be had. I like to think of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as that beautiful doobie, waiting to be shared as medicine for all. The people are gathered ‘round, eager to participate. But something is missing. Antiracism is the fire that ignites DEI. Doesn’t matter how many joints we roll…no one is smoking without that fire. 

Now that we’ve enjoyed a little metaphor; let’s break down what it means for cannabis businesses. It means our industry is still 97% white owned, with decreasing numbers of women, and low LGBTQIA+ representation. Now that just doesn’t make sense when the global DEI budget is expected to grow from $7.5 to $15.4 billion by 2026. In fact it’s bordering on insanity. You know, doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. 

DEI cannot achieve what it has valiantly set out to accomplish. Standard DEI doesn’t touch the root cause of inequity and exclusion-systemic racism. White people are naturally not inclined to talk about racism in the same way people know not to play with fire. We don’t want to get hurt. Addressing racism triggers the same brain response you’d feel if your house was on fire; fight, flight, or freeze. Please note, BIPOC people cannot avoid being harmed by systemic racism and experience a different form of racialized trauma

Ineffective DEI deprives our industry of equity and costs us both money and time. Diverse teams are 70% more likely to capture new markets, produce up to 41% higher revenue, and are 35% more likely to outperform competitors. Speaking of competition, keep in mind that 66% of Gen-Z consumers would switch to a brand committed to purpose. Gen-Z women are the fastest growing cannabis consumers. 

Even a brand committed to DEI can easily miss the mark on expressing and embodying their purpose without antiracism. Here’s a quick list of how antiracism boosts DEI, based on Cannabis Doing Good’s Antiracism Self-Assessment for Cannabusinesses. 

  • Company Commitments: Creates a baseline of racial equity in your mission, vision and values which subsequently addresses equity based on gender, age, sexual orientation, and differently abled people.
  • Hiring, Recruitment and Retention: Creates safe pathways for BIPOC to enter, stay, and lead your organization? 
  • Marketing and Communications: Paves the way for effective, authentic marketing that doesn’t culture vulture BIPOC communities. 
  • Community Engagement: Optimizes engagement to support Black and brown communities most impacted by the War on Drugs.
  • Policy: Addresses the 48,000 collateral damage laws that still target Black communities today. 

We live in an era full of resources that harness the transformative fire of antiracism work. I personally recommend utilizing a variety of free tools and partnering with experts like Cannabis Doing GoodThe Gemini Group, Regan Byrd Consulting, Zoe Williams, and Allies to Abolitionists (this list is not at all exhaustive). Antiracist DEI benefits people, brands, and businesses.  I’ll smoke to that.

The Good News – The Do’s and Don’ts of Community Engagement

Community engagement  is really about one thing; mutual benefit. Given that Black and Brown communities paid the heavy price of the Drug War, we believe the cannabis industry today must work to support communities, offer repair where it is required and collaboratively build relationships that steward reciprocity. Whether it’s 4/20 or any other day let’s support efforts that matter given our history. First and most importantly; the community perceives and receives value from your engagement . Secondly, a well centered community relationship considers repairing drug war harm. The American drug war directly targeted Black and brown people and therefore repair must be focused on the issues of highest priority in those communities. Lastly, your community work should align with your business objectives. Doing the right thing must be tied to both your success and your community’s health. Before jumping in, Let’s get clear on  what community work is NOT. 

  1. Charity
    • Your investment whether it be time, talent, or treasure is valuable. However, consider that dollars alone are not going to repair Black and brown communities. Read: Charity does not inherently equal change. So to influence long-term change, consider social change modeling, rather than white saviorism charity.
  2. A Publicity Stunt
    • Don’t come in cameras blazin. Community work is relational not transactional. Of course, when the time is right both you and your community partner will benefit from publicly sharing your work together. Until then take your time and get to know the passion + people behind the mission. Remember; the vetting process is mutual. Your confidence and alignment with the organization is equally important as their confidence in your company and intentions. 
  3. A Bandage for Internal Work
    • Before you begin external equity engagement, consider looking in the mirror first.  Determine if your mission, values, and systems are working towards antiracism. Need help? CDG’s Racial Equity Self-Assessment is a solid starting place. Antiracism is the epicenter of equity. Addressing racism addresses the multitude of ‘isms. Community work at its best boosts equity not only by redistributing resources but by repairing the institutional racism that we all inherited; but can ditch with time and effort. Without antiracism education you could unknowingly become an agent of harm rather than repair. And that isn’t exactly a good look for your business. 

Now that’s out of the way, here’s why community work is so valuable. 

  1. Win-Win Situations
    • Trust us, you will gain more than you give. Being in relationship with a community will enrich your company culture, connect you with brilliant people doing incredible things, and stretch your understanding of the world. Community is never responsible to teach you but if you’re authentic, respectful, and open you’ll likely learn a lot while your investment helps grow the good you care about. Pro-Tip: Purpose-driven, community-engaged companies outperform their competitors by 42%.
  2. Legacy Building
    • When we’re all old and gray, smoking our favorite flower it sure would be nice to look back and say we used our collective cannabis power to do Good. What’s Good you ask? To us; it’s racial justice and environmental sustainability. Community engagement happens to be a perfect vessel to make a positive generational impact. Products come and go, impact is a legacy.
  3. Taking Your Talk for a Walk
    • Community engagement is the footwork for your reputation. Take Terrapin Care Station for example; TCS has invested years into building their community engagement and has invested time, talent, and treasure. They have shown through action that “Terrapin Cares”. The data shows 91% of millennials and 66% of Gen-X/Boomers would switch to a purpose driven brand so caring means winning the market too. 

Take a peek at our Antiracism Guide for Cannabusinesses for more tips and resources.