The inaugural Cannabis Diversity Summit drew minority business and advocacy leaders from across the country to Denver, highlighting issues and opportunities in the cannabis industry.
The event was organized by Alaska-based cannabis activist and entrepreneur Charlo Greene, executive director of Go GREENE, which stands for Grass Roots Evolution through Education, Networking & Empowerment. According to Greene, the goal for the Cannabis Diversity Summit is to bring awareness to the ways communities of color affect the cannabis sectors of medical marijuana, criminal justice, entrepreneurship and advocacy.
To welcome the speakers, Go GREENE hosted a VIP networking mixer May 15 at weed-friendly Nativ Hotel, and an infused dinner was served at the home of Chris Chiari, who’s the founder and principal of consulting firm King of Quality.
The mixer was attended by event speakers and local cannabis business people and advocates. Among the speakers were Denver-based Robert Blount, president of Blunt House Media; Tesa Brice, CEO of The Mursy Foundation of Colorado and a Denver-based canna-mom; Jesce Horton, Portland, Ore.-based co-founder and chairman of Minority Cannabis Business Association; Sabria Still, patient advocate and veteran caregiver in Washington D.C.; and Jake Cabrera, founder of TeraPEN.
The new culture
Horton, who spoke on an entrepreneurship panel, said at the mixer: “I want to start sparks in the community and get minorities more involved. There are opportunities for minorities and people of color to be involved with the economic benefits of the cannabis industry and right the injustices created by the war on drugs. We need to increase the diversity to make the industry sustainable.”
Locals attending the mixer included Rick Wainwright, co-owner of LMW Agency with CEO Freddrick Moore, a.k.a. Dr. Kush, who additionally hosts 1Blunt Radio; Kat Humphries, compliance specialist at law firm Vicente Sederberg; and Rachelle Yeung, co-host of the weekly podcast “This Week In Drugs.”
The infused dinner got put together by a trio from Washington, D.C.: Torie Wallace, founder and executive chef of We.baked and Bishop Davis, founder and chef from the nonprofit organization Gifts From The Earth prepared eight dishes for the guests. Jerome Waite prepared the concentrates and tincture used to infuse the soul food menu. Waite, known by his spiritual name, Rasfia, is CEO and founder of the Cannabis Alliance Networking Group. All dishes were prepared with a combination of flowers, tincture and hash oil, which were added into cannabutter and infused olive oil. The cannabis strains used to infuse the meal were Tangie, Godbud, Lambsbreath, Ultra Master Kush, Holy Grail and Tangerine Haze.
The dinner started with an appetizer of infused creamy garlic spinach dip with crackers and chips, and salmon- or turkey bacon-topped deviled eggs. The main course featured large platters of curried rice pilaf, pasta shells made with six cheeses topped with chives, a fish entree of lemon pepper tilapia with fresh dill and an infused dill sauce, chicken legs coated in an infused hickory pineapple glaze and braised and infused turnip greens with turkey bacon bits.
For dessert, lemon mini-cupcakes with cranberry juice-soaked blueberries were drizzled with a buttercream sauce made with a Tangerine Haze infusion and Holy Grail tincture. The red velvet mini-cupcakes were topped with thick lines of caramel sauce infused with cannabutter and Holy Grail tincture.
Greene said the dinner “was next level.” The deviled eggs and the tilapia were her dinner highlights. “The fish was really well made,” she said, adding, “You couldn’t taste the cannabis.”
Other speakers at the Cannabis Diversity Summit included Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition; Madeline Martinez, founder of the World Famous Cannabis Café in Portland, Ore. who’s also a national board member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML); Brandon Wyatt,, a Washington D.C.-based attorney; Michelle Lilly-Hester of Houston, creator of Mojiuana.com; and Draya Sallis, managing partner of Urban Cann Solutions and chapter chair of Women Grow in Dallas.
Greene’s future goal for the diversity event is to organize larger conferences in California and Washington, D.C. Greene said many of the speakers are excited to reconnect and continue the discussions started in Denver.