Diversity is coming to Coloradoas marijuana industry, business leaders and social justice crusaders say

Mar 27th, 2018 3:04PM

Colorados cannabis industry so white but not for much longer.

Diversity is coming to the states marijuana industry, business leaders and social justice crusaders vowed at the Minority Cannabis Business Associations first-ever Opportunity Summit held Friday and Saturday at the University of Denver. The new organization is determined that people of color which currently account for only 1 percent of the thousands of licensed business owners in Colorado will be left behind no longer.

"The reason we got involved (in cannabis legalization efforts) was because there were 11,000 people going to jail in Colorado, 800,000 people nationwide, said Kayvan Khalatbari, MCBA chairman. "This was a social justice issue.

But four years after adult-use cannabis sales started in Colorado, plenty of social concerns remain, he said.

Opportunities have been squandered to address social and racial equity issues within the cannabis industry and the community as a whole, he said.

"Were not talking about how we reinvest in those communities, he said.

To enact substantial social change, Khalatbari went the grassroots route with MCBA.

"This needs to be a part of the conversation in every single state, he said. "I dont think its too late, but I think theres definitely hurdles.

The Opportunity Summit was designed to go beyond the traditional industry convetion with its sessions covering legal issues, labeling, marketing, business trends and market opportunities, Khalatbari said. MCBA also wanted to show young people and other people of color that people who look like them and grew up like them are succeeding in cannabis and other industries, he said.

Fridays full-slate of educational and inspirational seminars touched on topics such as inclusion, microaggressions, concerns of indigenous and LGBTQ populations, community reinvestment, activism, thoughtful marketing and advancement of medical marijuana research. Saturdays events included hands-on workshops related to developing entrepreneurial ideas, records-sealing, resume-building and business planning.

The keynote address was delivered Friday afternoon by NFL Hall of Fame running back-turned-entrepreneur Terrell Davis.

"Greatness can come from anywhere, Davis told the crowd of entrepreneurs, activists and residents looking to get a foothold in a booming industry. "Just think about that. You dont have to have a certain background, a certain nationality, a certain sexual orientation. Greatness can come from anywhere.

"If you believe that. If you can believe you can be great. You can achieve anything you want to achieve.

Davis, who said he doesnt have a direct connection to the cannabis industry and declined to give interviews, delivered a motivational speech with a laundry list of lessons-learned from not making excuses and working hard to developing the habits of successful individuals like former Broncos teammates John Elway and Shannon Sharpe.

As a rookie, Davis was fearful of success and the "ROPE that came hand-in-hand with it: Responsibility, Obligation, Pressure and Expectation.

"What I didnt realize was, by me not accepting that, that I was doing my family, people behind me a disservice, Davis said.

Leave a comment

You need to be logged in to add a comment. Not a member? Sign up now!


Sign Up

Join the world's fastest growing network
of Medical Marijuana Users and Businesses.

Log In

  • x
  • x