Last month, for the second time, the Emmanuel Baptist Church (EBC) in Brooklyn New York teamed up with Women Grow, the largest professional network in the cannabis industry, for the Business of Cannabis Summit. Launched in 2019, the Summit is designed to be a resource to help Black and Latinx communities enter the burgeoning legal cannabis and hemp industries.
The inaugural Business of Cannabis Summit took place in 2019, with 400 people gathered in attendance at the church, and over 60 speakers. The two-day summit brought business leaders, industry experts, and advocates together discussing topics from social justice, to winning a license and creating products, to reinvesting in communities. After the 2020 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Summit took place virtually over two days: February 19th and 20th, and more than doubled its inaugural audience, welcoming over 2,000 virtual attendees.
Rev. Anthony L. Trufant, EBC executive pastor, author, and nationally noted church development consultant, noted that the “collaborative experiment” between EBC and Women Grow may be seen as an “unorthodox partnership,” but one that has been successful at addressing the health disparities and economic discrimination that negatively impact communities of color — particularly African Americans.
“As Black entrepreneurs in the legal cannabis market, we appreciate the role the church has always played in our community,” says Gia Morón, President of Women Grow. “Creating a partnership with a Black church, especially one as large and influential as EBC, can be critical in helping the community better understand and accept responsible uses of cannabis as a medicine, and its potential as a business.”
The Summit featured live discussions from cannabis industry leaders and innovators including Niambe Tosh, daughter of reggae legend Peter Tosh; Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Kassandra Frederique; Wanda James, the first Black person to open a licensed adult-use dispensary (Simply Pure); and Dr. Chanda Macias, the first Black woman to open a licensed medical marijuana dispensary (National Holistic Healing Center) and CEO of Ilera Holistic Healthcare, which partners with Historically Black College/University (HBCU) Southern University in Louisiana as one of only two cannabis licensees in the state. Through that historic partnership, SU became the first HBCU in the country to create and launch hemp and cannabis products. Others included Regina Smith, Executive Director of Harlem Business Alliance, Leo Bridgewater a cannabis advocate and veteran from New Jersey, Roz McCarthy of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, Jawanza Williams Director of Organizing of Vocal New York, Jessica Gonzalez a New Jersey Cannabis Attorney, Mary Pryor of Cannaclusive, Melissa Moore of Drug Policy Alliance, Cristina Buccola a New York Cannabis Attorney, Chenae Bullock of Shinnecock Nation Tribe and Jacqui Williams of 99 Solutions.
Medgar Evers Community College (CUNY) in Brooklyn, NY announced at the summit the Fall 2021 launch of its Cannabis Minor program. This will be the first community college in New York state to launch such a program.
Topics discussed included adult-use legalization in New York and New Jersey; how to start a cannabis business; careers in cannabis; creating CBD hemp products; trademarking your cannabis business; investing in cannabis stocks and businesses; majoring in cannabis (college/continuing education programs); understanding land use and cannabis real estate; and how the cannabis industry can reinvest in our communities.
Sponsors of the 2021 Business of Cannabis Summit included Curaleaf, Etain, Columbia Care, Zelira Therapeutics, Cresco Labs, Keystone Canna Remedies, Phytolive Organic, Nicolle Munroe Designs, and GVM Communications.