Ascend Wellness Holdings
T. Andrew Brown / President of AWH New York
Leveraging his wealth of knowledge as a distinguished lawyer and public servant, Mr. Brown is focusing his efforts on equity, access, and affordability in NYS’ developing adult-use cannabis program, as well as improving offerings for medical cannabis patients.
Green Market Report asked these questions of all our featured executives for Black History Month:
1. I formally entered the cannabis industry in October 2021 when I became the President of Ascend Wellness Holdings, New York. Before that, my involvement was as an attorney advising on legislation and pertinent regulations in New York. As President of the New York State Bar Association, I have also been involved with hosting many cannabis programs educating attorneys and industry stakeholders in the various aspects of the market.
What made you decide to work in the cannabis industry?
2. I have been interested in the cannabis industry since the early days of discussions around legalization. I have studied the market as it’s opened up around the country and looked forward to it finally arriving in New York. Following legalization in New York, it was just a matter of time before I formally entered the cannabis industry.
Do you feel there is more opportunity for Black Americans in the cannabis industry versus a more traditional industry? Yes or no and why?
3. One of my great disappointments is the lack of diversity within the cannabis industry nationally. Despite the disproportionate injustices that fell upon communities of color due to the misguided marijuana laws, there remains a gross underrepresentation of BIPOC in the industry. There are countless ways to join the industry, as entry-level employees, management, and ownership. Greater diversification will lead to an overall improved market and more significant advancement of social equity.
What is the most successful social equity effort in your opinion? Can be a charity or company program.
4. In New York, there is enormous potential for the advancement of social equity under the adult-use legislation. Anticipated regulations will give further insight into just how this can be achieved. The drafters of the legislation were smart the bake in social equity, making it a core component of the law. Ascend Wellness Holdings will seek every opportunity to advance social equity for both the larger good of the industry and the citizens of New York. We have put together an aggressive plan to implement expungement clinics and other educational programs by partnering with human and legal services agencies and the New York State Bar Association. We are also developing incubator programs to help build and successfully launch social equity businesses looking to enter the industry.
What is your personal goal for 2022?
5. My personal goal is to do all that I can to improve the New York cannabis market by leveraging Ascend’s cannabis knowledge and expertise, along with its social consciousness, to maximize the benefits made possible through legalization for the good of all New Yorkers.