Diversity Drives Prominent pioneers in the cannabis industry


The burgeoning cannabis industry is largely dominated by people who are Caucasian, but that doesn’t mean there are not diversified individuals also leading the cannabis industry in great and innovative ways. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this month, and his dream for equality and justice for people of all races, sexes and creeds, we have highlighted some leaders in the cannabis industry who are helping to bring balance, equality and great businesses to this industry.

Alice A. Huffman: Huffman is the President of the California chapter of the NAACP and has publicly endorsed cannabis legalization initiatives while also fighting to allow people with cannabis-related minor crimes the opportunity to participate in the booming industry.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Gupta is a multiple Emmy-award winning chief medical correspondent for CNN, a practicing neurosurgeon, professor, writer and producer. In 2013, Gupta produced and reported on the healing medicinal qualities of cannabis and why it should not be illegal in a three-part series, WEED.

Ziv Turner: Turner is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer for One World Cannabis Ltd. A successful businessman and experienced engineer, he is helping One World Cannabis conduct medical research to develop new and unique delivery systems for cannabis and cannabinoid intake for medical patients.

Krystal Kitahara: Kitahara is the Owner and Chief Executive Officer of Yummi Karma, a female-marketed edibles company that specializes in tinctures, popcorn, sauces, salad dressings and infused chips. She is passionate about playing a role in the political debate surrounding legalization of cannabis and supports organizations that empower women and give back to the communities.

Seibo Shen: Shen is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of VapeXhale and created the company’s flagship product The Cloud vaporizer. With a lot of previous work in Silicon Valley, his tech experience helped his product win five best product awards in its first year on the market.

Wanda James: James is one of the first African-American cannabis collective owners in Colorado, and is also a successful entrepreneur through her Southern restaurant, Jezebel. She is Co-Owner and Co-Founder of Simply Pure with her husband Scott Durrah, a respected cannabis chef. She has a prominent past in politics, and has worked for President Barack Obama, Jared Polis and stays politically active through her own consulting firm, Cannabis Global Initiative.

Abdullah Saeed: Saeed is a journalist, producer and musician, currently working for VICE, writing music and cannabis-related columns and hosting Weediquette, a show that dives into all areas of the cannabis industry and culture through compelling stories and experiences.

Jesce Horton: Horton is Co-Founder and Board Chairman of the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), as well as the Co-Owner of the Oregon-based Saints Cannabis Dispensary. He strives to ensure that the cannabis industry endeavors to offer sustainable practices, with a focus on diversity as well as environmental efficiency.

Brandy Petricka: Petricka is the Marketing Director Dark Heart Industries in the Northern California Bay Area, who helps spread the word about the company’s high-quality clones that boast larger plant and leaf sizes, as well as improved root systems.

Steve DeAngelo: DeAngelo is a national cannabis icon who has written numerous books about various cannabis topics, is Founder and Owner of the famous Northern California collective, Harborside Health Center, is Co-Founder of the Arcview Group, and a recognizable activist in the cannabis industry.

Kayvan Khalatbari: Khalatbari is an advocate, entrepreneur, comedian and consultant. He is Co-Owner and Co-Founder of Denver Relief Consulting, Co-Owner and Co-Founder of Sexy Pizza, Co-Founder and Partner in Sexpot Comedy and is recognized as a great advocate and leader in the Colorado cannabis industry.

CannaNative: This trio of Native Americans (Anthony Riversa Jr., Andy Nakai and Cedric Black Eagle) formed CannaNative to help other Native American tribes develop hemp and cannabis-based economies. They strive to give all tribes the chance to help nurture their cannabis economies, both for current and future generations.

Yamin Bolanos: Bolanos is the Owner of PureLife Alternative Wellness Center in Los Angeles. Alongside her successful business, she has helped guide politicians toward proper legislation in her area; she also fights against the cannabis stigma that is still present in her local Latino community through partnering up with Safe Access to educate the community the benefits of medical cannabis.

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