NACB's 2020 Social Equity Conference Spotlights Cannabis Social Equity Trends & Business Opportunities


New York, NY, Nov. 12, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- New York, NY (November 12, 2020) – The National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB) has released the list of dynamic, catalytic experts presenting at its 2020 Social Equity Conference. The conference will be held via Zoom on Monday, November 16, 2020, with the first panel session starting at 9:00 am PST.  Networking and a virtual happy hour starting at 4:00 pm will follow the last session. See the day's agenda and registration information.

"The cannabis industry has a unique opportunity to lead the nation in minority business ownership and workforce diversity," said Gina Kranwinkel, President and CEO of NACB. "The question is, How will we respond? Our interactive event is designed to bring everyone into the social equity conversation and share the latest thinking on cannabis social equity trends and business opportunities. There is no charge to join this conversation, and everyone is welcome. Let's raise our voices for a more progressive and united future."

Here is the line-up of social equity sessions to be presented by cannabis industry experts:

Session 1: Social Reform & Cannabis: Join the Conversation starting at 9:00 am PST

Saskia VannJames, Lobbyist, Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council Board Member (moderator)

  • Heather Penzel, Spiritual Leader, within/without
  • Kelly Perez, President/Co-Founder of Cannabis Doing Good, Co-Executive Director of the Cannabis Impact Fund
  • Ernest Toney, Founder BIPOCANN

Equality. Social Equity. Social Reform. Diversity. Tokenism. Inclusion. Social Justice. These terms are sparking headlines and heated emotions across the country, but are we always on the same wavelength when we talk about social reform or push for diversity and inclusion initiatives?  Experts on this panel will define these concepts, clarify the differences between them and talk about their importance to cannabis business owners. This panel will give you the tools to consciously create inclusion at work and in your everyday life.

Session 2: Call to Action: Have a Voice starting at 10:00 am PST

Tom Nolasco, Director of Legal and Strategic Initiatives, NACB (moderator)

  • Aaron Goines, Co-Founder & CEO The Emerald Turtle
  • Mark Gorman, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer, NACB
  • Saskia VannJames, Lobbyist, Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council Board Member

The cannabis industry is growing quickly, and we should expect industry regulation to catch up soon. Is your voice being heard when you sign a petition or participate in a rally? How do you know where to look for guidance or decide which groups to support? Our cannabis advocacy expert panelists will explain that you don't need to be a lobbyist to stand up and make your voice count, even in pandemic times. Join this session to learn how to be proactive in creating change and wielding your influence. This is your call to action!

Session 3: Cities & States Leading the U.S. Social Equity Program starting at 11:00 am PST

Mark Gorman, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer, NACB (moderator)

  • Shawn Collins, Executive Director, Cannabis Control Commission        
  • Dasheeda Dawson, Cannabis Program Supervisor for the City of Portland, Oregon, and Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The WeedHead ™
  • Portia Mittons, Owner The Coughie Pot, and Chair of the Social Equity and Racial Justice Committee for the Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association
  • Joey Peña, City of Denver Cannabis Process Navigator

Across the U.S cities and states are implementing social equity programs linked to their local cannabis industry. What is the purpose behind these programs? Who are they designed to help and why are they needed? Our expert panelists will share the goals of their social equity programs and their impact. They'll also discuss barriers to implementation they have encountered, and ways to move beyond them effectively. If you are a cannabis business owner or future entrepreneur, you'll want to hear more about the opportunities a local social equity program can provide to you.

Session 4: More Than a Checkbox: Diversity in Cannabis Workplaces starting at 1:00 pm PST

Heather Cabot, Journalist and Author of The New Chardonnay: The Unlikely Story of How Marijuana Went Mainstream (moderator)

  • Morgan Forsey, Partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group and Co-Office Managing Partner of Sheppard Mullin, San Francisco      
  • Roz McCarthy, Founder & CEO of M4MM
  • Jennifer Whetzel, Founder, Ladyjane branding firm for cannabis businesses   

Like every business in the U.S., cannabis workplaces are subject to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules. But what happens when cannabis business owners go from nominal compliance to truly embracing workplace diversity? Is it worth it to seek out a variety of perspectives in your hiring, and go the extra mile to ensure people feel comfortable in their surroundings? What is the importance of hiring justice-impacted individuals? Find out from our expert panelists why making sure everyone in your organization has a voice can lead to unexpectedly strong positive results.

Session 5: For Liberty and Justice for All starting at 2:00 pm PST

Jason Cragholm, Founder & CEO, QualSCORE (moderator)

  • Amy McDougal, CCEP, Director of the International Cannabis Bar Association & Chair of the ICBA Active Ethics Committee
  • Shanita Penny, Principal, Budding Solutions
  • Tom Nolasco, Director of Legal and Strategic Initiatives, NACB

What did America's founders hope for when they set down the principles of liberty, equality and justice for all? Could they have envisioned the America of today? Our expert panel will take us on a deep dive into the differences between compliance and the ethics of inclusion. They'll get you thinking about your core beliefs on freedom in this country, and how we can treat all groups, including protected classes, with fairness. Expect to be engaged and challenged in this discussion. Your takeaways will be new ways of looking at cannabis business and its role in advancing social equity in our society.

Session 6: The Journey of Social Equity Licensees: Stories from the Front Lines starting at 3:00 pm PST

Ernest Toney, Founder BIPOCANN (moderator)

  • Devin Alexander, CEO of Rolling Releaf, and Vice President of The Massachusetts Cannabis Association for Delivery, Massachusetts Social Equity Program Graduate
  • Cindy De La Vega, CEO of STIIIZY Union Square 
  • Jennifer J. Gaskin, CCRP, CMQ-OE, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Empress & Bandit Greenery
  • Janelle Goines, Co-Founder & COO of The Emerald Turtle

Social equity programs level the playing field for those who have been incarcerated on cannabis charges or live in neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. Hear from social equity licensees about their journeys, from the struggles to the wins, and equally important, what they want to see changed. This panel is your chance to increase your understanding about the difficulties and challenges these licensees have faced and continue to face in the cannabis industry and in their everyday lives.

About the National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB): The National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB) is a self-regulatory organization whose mission is to advance the industry by building consensus around best practices, promoting business responsibility and demonstrating to regulators what transparent and responsible regulations should look like. Compliance with NACB national standards is required for ongoing membership in the NACB.

Meggan Hau
National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB)
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