Social equity programs in the cannabis industry have become a business imperative. This panel will discuss how several different operators approach the issue in their organizations.
Social Equity Best Practices for the Cannabis Industry
Ernest is the founder of BIPOCANN, a company that connects BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) business owners and professionals to the legal cannabis industry. Through his BIPOC Cannabis Network, Ernest aims to make the legal cannabis industry more accessible and profitable for visible minorities – using technology, recruitment programs, and strategic partnerships to build economic growth.
Prior to BIPOCANN, Ernest worked for MJBizDaily – the leading business news resource for cannabis entrepreneurs, executives, and professionals, and host of the world's largest family of B2B tradeshows for the cannabis industry, MJBizCon. As their partnerships manager, he negotiated and managed domestic and global marketing agreements to support the company's portfolio of business information products. He also led MJBizDaily's international marketing campaigns to support the company's expansion into the Canadian, European, and Latin American markets.
Amanda Reiman is the Vice President of Community Development for Flow Cannabis Company, which engages in distribution, manufacturing and white label production of sun grown cannabis products. She is also the Founder and CEO of Personal Plants, an online platform to support the home cultivation and processing of therapeutic plants and fungi. Dr. Reiman is a Board member for the California Cannabis Tourism Association, The Mendocino Cannabis Alliance, The Mendocino County Fire Safe Council, and The Initiative, the first incubator/accelerator for women owned cannabis businesses. After receiving her PhD from UC Berkeley, Dr. Reiman was the Director of Research and Patient Services at Berkeley Patients Group, one of the oldest dispensaries in the country, and the Manager of Marijuana Law and Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance, a national non-profit that was engaged in the drafting and campaigns of legalization initiatives across the country and abroad. She also taught courses on substance abuse treatment and drug policy at UC Berkeley for 10 years and has published several research articles and book chapters on the use of cannabis as a substitute for opiates and the social history of the cannabis movement. Amanda currently resides in Ukiah, CA with her partner Sean and their 2 dogs and 3 cats.
Gia Morón is the President for Women Grow. She oversees the company’s day-to-day operations, internal and external communications, education programming, and strategic partnerships. She began working with Women Grow headquarters in January 2017 as Director of Communications, after transitioning from the Women Grow New York City market in 2016. With 25 years of experience in public relations, in 2012 Gia launched GVM Communications, Inc., a public relations, brand and business development firm. Her client base ranges from small to mid-sized businesses, non-profit organizations, entrepreneurs, authors and celebrity clients. Prior to launching her firm and working with Women Grow, she was a Media Relations Officer in the Corporate Communications department for fifteen years at the Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
While at Goldman Sachs, Gia oversaw various business areas from Private Equity, Urban Investment, Investment Research and Technology to the firm’s organizational focus on Corporate Engagement, Diversity, Recruiting, Human Resources and Corporate Services. Before joining Goldman Sachs, Gia was Director of Promotions and Publicity for six years at The Fremantle Corporation, an international television distribution and production company. Outside of her professional accomplishments, she continuously works with a number of non-profit organizations in New York City and mentors up-and-coming young women entrepreneurs across the country to South Africa. Gia currently resides in her hometown of Brooklyn, NY, with her daughter.
CEO of Uplift Maryland, Kevin Ford, Jr., is a native to Prince George's County (MD) and a graduate of Morehouse College, where he received a B.A. in Business Administration -- Marketing. Throughout studying Business and Marketing college, Kevin took a keen interest in the medical markets in California and Colorado. After moving home to Prince George's County, he watched the start of the medical cannabis industry in D.C., in hopes that he'd have an opportunity to mix his entrepreneurial spirit with cannabis in a legal, medical market in Maryland. Simultaneously, Kevin worked for Prince George's County Government Office of Central Services, where he oversaw the procurement and supplier of diversity and development divisions. Being a medical patient himself, Kevin saw a void in the market for a trusted source of information for navigating all segments of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. At this point, he created Uplift Maryland, a one-stop-shop for navigating the state's medical cannabis program. His passion stems from wanting to take what the generation before him has created and elevate it to the next level. Kevin has been able to take something that was once illegal and incarcerated many Black men before him and turn it into a positive by providing an education of opportunity, especially to those who have been marginalized by oppressive and unjust drug policies.
Kevin also serves on The National Cannabis Industry Association's (NCIA) State Regulations Committee (SRC), an association that was founded on the principle of power in numbers. NCIA committees' primary function is to help and advise NCIA on how to execute the goals and mission of the association as defined by the staff Board of Directors and Policy Council. In addition, the Committee assists NCIA's Policy Council in the decision-making process by providing expertise and industry experience through the creation of a body of knowledge to support the cannabis industry. By joining the SRC, Kevin brings firsthand experience lobbying Maryland to push forward social equity by providing opportunities and resources for those most disadvantaged classes.