This month, Ramon And Vlad go straight to the Boulevard with CannaBoss Lady and Women Grow President, Gia Morón To talk all things New York Cannabis. We touch on what New York might look like once cannbis goes legal in the state, and hit on the important to-do’s New York has to think about before the Legalization lights go on. Listen to the full epiosde on Monday, November 16th @4:20EST!
Q: How do you feel about Social Equity when discussing legalization in New York
A: I think it has a different definition, depending on who you speak with, and even within our own communities as well. I have my own perspective on how I believe social equity should work, But I think we're all entitled to our own perspectives. It's just rolling out a plan that's going to benefit people. Because I could really give a fuck what anyone's opinion of the definition is as long as we're able to do it. If your definition is a particular version of what you believe social equity is and you have the team to execute what you believe that version is, then you should do it, right? Because I think we've spent so much time debating on the definition of social equity that no fucking state has gotten it right yet. Why? Because everyone's got a different perspective. So even if you look at what social equity that has been launched, whether in California or in Illinois. While I may not agree with all aspects of it, I also recognize that they are not basing it off of something that's been done before. And so oftentimes people get annoyed that I say that. But it's the truth. If you don't have a basis for what you're launching, then How do you know if it's right or wrong? The problem with our laws, though, is that once it goes into effect, there's no room to make those corrections along the way, which is what you see California is now trying to do. And where as people look at the state of Illinois and they think that Illinois has got it right. But you talk to residents in Illinois, they don't feel like it's right. So it's a trial and error, But a continued one. I think what we have to do is keep working at it to perfect our own everyday laws which aren't perfect. So if we're able to continue to perfect and to put the pressure on that, it needs to be improved time over time, especially with the regulations in place. You look at what Massachusetts did the other day, like when I said the other day, like a couple of days ago, they now have a new what the reproved with the new delivery service. They have new opportunities that are presented for people of color. And you think about where Massachusetts was and where it's going to those are improvements we need to see over time. I don't think we need to get fixated on the system breaking down, yes, we got to go back and fix it. We cannot be fixated on what the problem is. We need to come up with the solution.
Q: What is Women Grow and what is its goal in the cannabis industry?
A: So women grow, which I think you guys had Jane West on here not too long ago. So Jane West founded Women Grow and it's the largest network for women in the cannabis industry. Its mission is to connect, educate, empower and inspire the next generation of leaders. And so it was founded in Denver, Colorado, and it grew. I went to my first Woman Grow meeting, there were only five black people in a room here in New York City. And so to me, that stood out because how are we in the melting pot and there's only five black people in the room of like 80, 90 people. So that stood out to me. And one of the things that I said is I'm going to do my best to try to diversify the company. And I did that by when I first started going to meetings. I would just I kept inviting people that look like us. Just come out and what I didn’t understand for my friends that were consumers, it was real played out that you only consume and that you don't have some kind of professional or business interests in the space. Like however you might want it to be. But at least explore it. So then I started working women grow. And now today, one of the things that I've been very intentional in doing over the years is finding people not just that look like us, but that are reflections of our society. So, you know, identifying Asian women in the industry like Latinos or whomever, but being very intentional about that and unapologetic because when you begin to see reflections of yourself on the other side, it's like that informal invitation. Just like the nods when you walk in a room. because, you know, I think sometimes we hesitate to approach someone that may be of another race in asking questions, not to say that there's sometimes there is a level of intimidation. But when you see someone that looks like you, you feel a little bit more comfortable to approach them. And I think that that's important because otherwise we'll have an industry that will continue to be white dominated, if people think about when Obama was president right before him, no little kid ever thought it was possible to become president. So it's no different in this industry. You said it from the legacy market. Yeah, they look like us. But in the Legal market, No one looks like us. But if we start showing up and filling roles in leadership. Then you can see yourself being a CEO of a multi-million dollar legal cannabis operation. people have to stop being intimidated by being the only one in the room. Be the first one in the room. First to open the door But you would then meet your responsibilities to invite other people.
Q: What is Women Grow Doing during Covid and Beyond?
A: The pandemic really impacted our business because we are at the end of the day we were an events company. We're bringing people together, live and in person, so we had to discontinue those events, which we did early on. So the first thing we had scheduled in New York was the first women in Cannabis Lobby Day. And we had like close to 200 women registered to go up to Albany to go and lobby for adult use legalization in our state. Then, you know, pandemic hits. But if we can't go there, we certainly can't have events, if we can't have events in New York. We can't have events anywhere in the country. So now that's all revenue that had to stop. And so Dr. Shanda Macias, who is the chairwoman and CEO of Women Grow and I am the president, made the decision to say, all right, well, we got to shut down our program and we have to reassess what do we do. So we took it to social media and we launched something called #adulthomeschooling. we figured a lot of parents were home, home schooling their kids, that it was a great opportunity for them to get home school themselves. So there was a program running out of Green Flower Media, which. we'll have a formal announcement soon that we have partnered with the Green Flower for their online education. So our adult home schooling is coming back because the pandemic is still here, I think in the following winter, a lot of kids are not going back to school. They stay home and a lot of parents are not going back to work. And so it's a great way for them to, you know, brush up their education and knowledge. So that's what we've had to do. we're using social media as the best way to connect with people. We found that during this time, even more so, people are more connected to their devices. And you're right. We're doing zoom calls and IG Lives, you know, all these other things. So why not stay connected to our community through social media? And so in September 2020, we will be relaunching or officially launching our adult home schooling with online education courses, virtual boot camps, book clubs. What else are we doing? A podcast?
Q: Are you seeing more Diversity in the cannabis industry since you’ve started?
A: So I would say the part that's interesting to me is that when I was on Wall Street, diversity and inclusion was trending. It was a trending thing. And the reason why I say that is on Wall Street, there aren't a lot of people that look like us. And so what they would do is then say we now have to start these diversity initiatives in recruiting, getting more, you know, black and brown people to come and work in their companies. Now, it's not like George Floyd or Breonna Taylor incidents didn't exist then. It's just we didn't have social media to amplify those incidents. So now you have mainstream and cannabis, and the spotlight is on us. And now what are we going to do? Mainstream knows that their consumer base, which women spend over a trillion dollars. And you think about our black communities and Latino communities, we spend trillions of dollars on their products. And so they've got to speak to us. Otherwise, you lose a huge consumer base. A whole lot of spending. And when you think about cannabis, the trend is they always want to point to, as we already said, social equity. At one point they wrongfully incarcerated, nonviolent offenders, they basically got locked up for weed that we're doing right now legally. But you think about Sandra Bland who got pulled over. Right, for a traffic violation cause a cop assume that she was smoking weed in her car. We as an industry absolutely have to be involved because any of those people that we have seen, our brothers and sisters that we have seen on the ground and apprehended or murdered by law enforcement could be any of our community. Right. That is a patient of this medicine. You think about the brother. That was in Alabama or somewhere down south, he veteran who served our country, he's a card carrying patient. But meanwhile, he goes to jail for it. But it's important that these companies become vocal. What they cannot do and what we cannot allow them to do is to just show up right now while the camera's on like you saw them early in the summer where everyone wanted to post their black lives matters Posts and say this, but you look at their companies. They're not being proactive. They only react when there's a crisis. They're not fully behind organizations like M for MM or NCBA without being told that they have to be. It's no secret that these organizations and other organizations like them in the industry exist. So, yes, about God damn time.
Q: What do you think is the most important thing for New York before legalization?
A: I'd like to see statewide cannabis education. Yes, I would like to see statewide cannabis education in our higher institutions. I believe that. While we're running toward the adult use market. My concern is that will they hire within the state? Are they going to bring outside talent? So I feel like we need to educate our people so that the people that we hire are the very same taxpayers that are putting the money right back into the market. I want to see the city. I mean not just state. I want to see city college have not just a course but a degree. Why not have degrees and certifications of some sort. I think that's important. We have to become educated. You said that right? And so oftentimes I think we're running so fast to legalize. And then our own people don't know where to find the resources or information. And I think New York has a position to really change the course of adult legalization. I think if we take the errors that that have happened in other states and learn from them and sort of take the pros and cons of each and then create our own unique legalized state. And make sure that women, black, brown, but all diversity, all ethnicities are part of it because other states, they have to go back because they forgot about women and diversity.Like how do you forget that? But they forgot to include them. And so New York can do that from the onset and make sure that we are a partner in this.