Pride Archives - Green Market Report

Debra BorchardtJune 21, 2022
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7min1810

High Times has sold its LGBTQ publications to Equal Entertainment for an undisclosed amount. The publications include Out.com/ Magazine, Advocate.com/ Magazine, Out Traveler Magazine, Plus Magazine, and Pride.com and given a new name for the company Equal Pride. According to the press release, “The acquisition returns the company to LBGTQ+ majority ownership and creates the largest LGBTQ+ – owned media, digital, TV, and entertainment company in the country with the majority of Equal Pride employees also identifying as LGBTQ+, women, and/or people of color.” The newly named Equal Pride will be run by Mark Berryhill who becomes Chief Executive Officer.

“Our combined company will be the premier home for LGBTQ+ people — and increasingly women and people of color creators, storytellers, journalists, and business people who want to have an impact through their work with one of the most diverse group of media and digital brands in the world,” CEO Mark Berryhill said.

Troubled Ownership

Technically, it was Oreva Capital, the Los Angeles-based investment firm that owns High Times that backed a management-led buyout of Here Publishing, which owned the titles “The Advocate” and “Out” in 2017. The price was not disclosed at that time and the group of titles was rebranded as Pride Media. 

Then the trouble began. Out found it difficult to retain editorial staff and a revolving door of executives came and went. Staff cuts began and amid the layoffs, more freelance writers came on. However, they began getting stiffed and filed a lawsuit in order to get paid. The writers wrote at the time, “OUT.com saw a spike in traffic from 691,000 unique views in September to about 1.5 million in December 2018. OUT’s digital ad revenue has grown 48% year over year. All revenue for Pride Media was estimated to be at just under $5.8 million for 2018 and projected to increase 26% this year. Pride Media and its investors have plenty of money to pay the outstanding sum of invoices — a drop in the bucket compared to the projected $7.2 million in ad revenue Pride Media is projected to earn this year, according to the WWD story. Clearly, profits were and are being made.”

Then the company was accused of not paying a publishing partner PinkNews in 2019. That case finally got resolved by Judge Analisa Torres who awarded PinkNews $49,998.84 on May 21, 2021. In January 2022, PinkNews asked for its legal fees to be covered but was denied the request. 

In addition to problems paying its bills, Oreva and High Times owner Adam Levin was outed for supporting Republican politicians who had opposed gay rights. Levin countered with his support of politicians who voted in favor of gay rights, but nonetheless said he would stop those contributions.  Despite those promises, LGBTQ Nation reported that Levin continued to support anti-gay politicians and couldn’t verify his financial support to pro-gay politicians. 

High Times recently lost a court case regarding back rent owed on a planned dispensary space in San Francisco to the tune of $5 million. So no matter how much the company received for this sale, it likely came at a good time.

Looking Ahead

The magazine titles may have struggled to find an audience as gay and trans rights seemed to bloom under the Obama administration. However, the community is back under attack in the culture wars. Most recently the Texas GOP called homosexuality abnormal, sparking fresh fears of discrimination. The gay community may begin seeking out these publications again in order to inform of new legal attacks. 

In addition to the other named executives, Michael Kelley will become Chairman and President of Global Growth and Development reporting to Berryhill. Diane Anderson-Minshall, the first female CEO of Pride Media, will retain C-suite responsibilities as the Chief Global and Development Officer of Equal Pride focused on editorial brands and international audience expansion. Rounding out the leadership, Joe Lovejoy, will become Chief Financial Officer and Stuart Brockington has been upped to EVP of Sales and Partnerships, effective immediately. Equal Pride 2022 clients include: General Motors, Google Pixel, Gilead, Capital One, Disney/Hulu, TikTok, McDonald’s, Molson Coors, NBCU, J&J and many others.

“We could not be more excited about the opportunity to join forces with Equal,” Diane Anderson-Minshall said as she assumes a role in leadership with expanded duties on global content growth. “This combination will not only create an unparalleled scale with the most diverse and engaged audiences for advertisers as well as other strategic revenue opportunities, but it will also bring together some of our community’s top talent, the most popular media brands, and the most impactful content in the world. This is the beginning of our most exciting chapter.”


Debra BorchardtJune 25, 2021
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18min2070

Green Market Report wants to celebrate Pride month and all the members of the LGBTQ community. This list certainly doesn’t include every leader in the cannabis industry and we apologize if there are key people we missed. We put out requests on social media and reached out to Public Relations professionals to see who identified with the community and consented to be included. We respect all who preferred to remain private. Love is love.

JJ McKay- Founder, The Fresh Toast

Seattle resident JJ McKay is the founder/ publisher of The Fresh Toast, one of the largest media content consumer-facing cannabis media companies in the US and Canada.  During his career, McKay has run large organizations with a focus on business development, strategic partnerships, and consumer engagement.  He has developed partnerships for companies like Costco, Fisher Media, and the biotechnology space. From the South, McKay has a long history of business and civic involvement, serving on community and company boards including US Bank, The Daily Beast, Pike Place Market, Mary’s Place, Pilchuck School of Glass, and Seattle Opera. He was involved in Tina Brown’s Women in World conference and chaired the AIC Middle East/North Africa International Human Rights Film Festival. He has chaired a number of charity events including the annual LGBT Victory Fund Gala and Seattle Center 50th Birthday party. McKay has had a hand in matchmaking, introducing 10 couples who have gotten married (and most living happily ever after).  McKay is an avid reader, has climbed Mt. Rainer, and is always up for an adventure.

Andrea Brooks, CEO, and co-founder of Sava

Andrea Brooks is a cannabis advocate, public speaker, and former global development consultant. She founded Sava, a highly curated cannabis e-commerce company delivering to the larger Bay Area, from her vision to “Rethink Cannabis” in the mainstream. Under her stewardship, Sava has grown from 1 to 50 employees, expanded its product offering to more than 70 brands and 750 SKUs, and experienced 10X growth in revenue. Prior to Sava, Andrea served as a Principle at Brooks Consulting and has consulted with NGO’s around the world including Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Tanzania, Nigeria, and San Francisco. She is a former recipient of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s Fair Housing Award for developing new programming in the fields of fair housing and reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities. Andrea has served as Vice-Chair on two separate San Francisco governmental advisory bodies, including the Commission for Animal Control and Welfare.

Tracey Mason – CEO House of Saka

A seasoned sales and marketing executive, Tracey Mason from House of Saka has successfully created, marketed, and sold innovative products in the CPG and adult beverage sectors for over 25 years. Her prior experience includes serving as Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at CannaCraft, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Terravant Wine Company, SVP of Marketing and Innovation at Purple Wine and Spirits, EVP of Global Marketing at Goelet Wine Estates/Clos du Val Winery, VP of Global Innovation at Treasury Wine Estates, Director of Commercial Innovation at Diageo and VP of Sales and Marketing at Epic Wines. In addition to overseeing House of Saka’s day-to-day operations, Tracey Mason is also President and Creative Director for M3G-Inc, a leading marketing consultancy group she founded in 2013.

Dr. Trina Hazzah- Cannabis Veterinarian, Green Nile Inc.

Dr. Trina Hazzah is a Veterinary Integrative Oncologist and Cannabis Expert educating vet practitioners, pet parents, and cannabis/hemp companies on the medical application of cannabis in pets. Based in Los Angeles, Dr. Hazzah is one of the few integrative Board Certified Veterinary Oncologists in the country trained in traditional Chinese medicine and conventional medicine. Dr. Hazzah practiced medical oncology for 15 years before switching her focus to cannabis medicine full-time with her cannabis consulting service, Green Nile, Inc. She is the Founder of The Veterinary Cannabis Society, the first non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization building awareness of cannabis as medicine for pets, and in 2020, Hazzah published the first of its kind review article on Cannabis in Veterinary Medicine in a peer-reviewed journal. Hazzah attended Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine where she earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. 

 

Kyle Porter, CEO CMW Media

Kyle Porter is an ex-entertainment marketer turned communications entrepreneur who is now the CEO of CMW Media, a PR and Marketing Firm specializing in emerging markets such as sustainable technologies and cannabis. He is a native Arizonian who got his BA in Marketing from Northern Arizona University. After completing his degree, Porter began his career working with various event and marketing agencies and was able to scale start-up agencies into multi-million dollar organizations. He specializes not only in communications and marketing but oversees accounting, human resources, and business development.

Amber Senter, Founder Breeze Distro

Amber Senter is the founder and CEO of Breeze Distro and Shady Pines Box Club, a lifestyle and infused cannabis product, distribution, and direct-to-consumer company located in Oakland, CA. Amber is also the co-founder of EquityWorks! Incubator, the country’s first publicly funded social equity shared manufacturing facility. Amber is a veteran of the United States Coast Guard. Amber has served in a number of leadership positions in the cannabis industry. She is also on the advisory board of Decriminalize Nature Oakland, the first group in the country to successfully advocate to decriminalize all-natural plant medicines in the city of Oakland. She is also co-founder and Chair of the Board of Supernova Women.

Khadijah Tribble, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Curaleaf

Khadijah Tribble is a highly respected expert on equity and inclusion in the cannabis industry and has advised cannabis investors, government regulators, entrepreneurs, and businesses on policy, business development, and community impact. Prior to joining Curaleaf (NASDAQ: CURLF), Ms. Tribble founded Marijuana Matters (M2), a cannabis education and advocacy incubator, and is also the founder of the Marijuana Policy Trust (MPT), a think tank providing expertise toward building an inclusive and diverse cannabis industry. Prior to MPT she was Chief Executive of Ground Game, LLC, a consultancy focused on health technologies, and was a co-founder and director of business operations for United Medical Center’s Rose Clinic. Ms. Tribble holds a master’s degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Maggie Connors – Founder Besito

Maggie Connors founded Besito in an effort to bring highly designed products to market in a way that gives back to the community. Under the direction of Connors and the creative director Ely Kim, the brand advocates for LGBTQ rights, criminal justice reform, and the advancement of scientific research in cannabis. Connors has an MBA from Stanford and a background in brand management and product design for global companies like Apple, Pepsi, and Starbucks. She was an early-stage cannabis investor and industry pioneer, before founding Besito in 2017.

 

Brie Kralick, Director of Cultivation Operations, Hava Gardens

Brie Kralick is an award-winning expert in sustainable Living Soil Cultivation techniques, small- and large-scale agricultural operations, and on-site quality control. At Hava Gardens’ 34,000-square-foot facility in western Colorado, she ensures that exacting standards for cannabis production and distribution are met.

As a millennial cannabis cultivator, Brie combines her schooling in prohibition-era sustainable growing techniques with a dedication for bringing world-class cannabis to legal markets. She honed her craft at Pennsylvania-based medical wholesaler FarmaceuticalRX and Colorado’s Verde Natural by studying under master grower and Hava Gardens Vice President of Cultivation, Cassandra Maffey. Brie uses a hands-on approach in developing protocols for new cultivars and guiding the cultivation team’s production of organically grown flower using a living soil methodology that minimizes waste and encourages holistic plant health. Outside work, she enjoys home gardening and seeing live music. Brie identifies as a cis lesbian using she/her pronouns and would like to see more minority and LGBTQ+ representation within cannabis.

Sapphire Blackwood, Principle Blackwood Consulting
Sapphire Blackwood pivoted to a legal career from a career in marketing and media in 2012. Her public relations, marketing, and business development expertise make her a unique legal consultant. Blackwood led controversial land use development projects throughout California. She trained a team including architects, engineers, and other construction professionals on new policy. She lobbied for ballot initiatives and other land use ordinances to benefit emerging industries.
Sapphire has launched multiple local San Diego groups, held events, and has secured numerous cannabis licenses for clients in Southern California. She’s currently the Principal of Blackwood Consulting, but make no mistake, she has helped literally dozens and dozens of small businesses win a license when they NEVER would have otherwise, changing people’s lives and livelihoods.

LaGanja Estranja

Laganja Estranja is the stage name of Jay Jackson, an American choreographer and drag queen based in Los Angeles. She is an American drag queen, choreographer and cannabis activist. She was best known as a contestant on Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and placing 8th. As a cannabis rights activist, Laganja has hosted conversations on cannabis legalization at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and at Impulse in San Francisco. She has also been featured twice in High Times Magazine as well as on the cover of Dope Magazine, making her the first LGBTQ+ advocate on the cover of a cannabis magazine. The podcast, The Hash, explored, alongside Laganja, topics like homophobia in the cannabis industry and what it’s like to often be the only queer person in a room. The Laganja Estranja lifestyle brand includes a collaboration preroll joint with San Francisco’s The Hepburns, called “LAhepburns.” Laganja also partnered with FRUIT SLABS, a company making cannabis-infused, vegan, real-fruit squares for their 2019 PRIDE collection. 

 


 

Joe Dolce- Brave New Weed, Medical Cannabis Mentor

Joe Dolce is the founder and CEO of the MedicalCannabisMentor.com online education platform, with courses for healthcare practitioners, dispensary personnel and patients. He is also the author of Brave New Weed: Adventures into the Uncharted World of Cannabis, which was published to critical acclaim in 2017 and hosts the Brave New Weed podcast, which boasts an international audience of first movers, industry experts and rabble rousers with a deep interest in high-minded conversations about the plant and its many applications. Before entering the world of medical cannabis, Joe worked at the highest level of media. He is founder of Joe Dolce Communications, one of New York City’s most highly regarded Presentation & Media Training companies, and was editor-in-chief of Details magazine. He was a contributing editor at Gourmet and has written for T: The New York Times Magazine, New York, Rolling Stone, Travel & Leisure, Departures, plus dozens of other top-tier publications. He has an MA from New York University and a BA from Northwestern University.


Julie AitchesonJune 16, 2020
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6min950

The shared history between cannabis and the LGBTQ+ community is long, including the landmark moment when HIV/AIDS activists pushed through medical marijuana legalization in California in 1996. There is a commonality of lived experience as well. As articulated by Laila Makled and Caroline Phillips in an April 2019 article for The Washington Blade, “Both cannabis and LGBTQIA community have lived on the fringes of society for decades, navigating a country where their acceptance was, and often still is, hard to attain.” 

Several cannabis companies are stepping up to support and commemorate Pride month. In addition to donating $15,000 to GLAAD for Pride month, edibles brand Kiva Confections has re-released their tropical-flavored Proud Camino gummies. San Francisco-based company SPARC has launched its exclusive Unicorn OG cartridge, and is donating $1 per sale to the GLBT Historical Society. Peak Extracts is offering a Pride promo with 10% off of their entire line of tinctures and topicals, and purchases of Aster Farms’ limited edition Rainbow Chip Pre-Rolls and a Coolhaus pint will benefit Los Angeles based LGBTQ+ charities. 

But Pride month is not happening in a vacuum. We are in the midst not only of a global pandemic, but a global uprising of citizens in the face of systemic racism and police brutality against Black people.  Though many cannabis companies have made strong gestures of solidarity with the fight for racial equality during Pride month, such as Envy CBD which posted a “How to Support Your Community” primer on its website, few are stepping up on the monetary end, at least not yet.

Black communities have long been disproportionately affected by the criminalization of marijuana (as reflected in this report published by the ACLU), and black trans women of color are even more vulnerable to police brutality than their cisgender counterparts. “Trans people who have done street economy work are more than twice as likely to report physical assaults by police officers and four times as likely to report sexual assault by police” according to Blueprint for Equality, published by the National Center for Transgender Equality. In case you missed it, “street economy” includes the sale of marijuana in places where its recreational use is still a crime. 

Many Pride event organizers have offered to dedicate their marches and rallies to solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, such as the All Black Lives Matter march in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 14. The organizers made inclusivity an explicit theme of their protest, which helped to highlight the invisibilization of black trans people that occurs within the context of racial justice.

The annual Pridefest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was canceled altogether to center the concerns of the Black Lives Matter movement. With all of the crossover between cannabis, LGBTQ+ and Black communities, it seems a natural step that in addition to “sharing the mike” with Black voices, cannabis companies might be moved to share the spotlight and profits from their promotions as well. With two weeks left of Pride 2020, there’s still time. 

 

 

 


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