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65 Outstanding Black and Hispanic Men Leading in Cannabis, Beyond Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa




This article was originally published on The WeedHead’s blog, authored by Dasheeda Dawson.

SPOILER ALERT — You won’t find Snoop, Wiz Khalifa or Jay-Z on this list.

While researching for the latest update of our top-selling workbook, How to Succeed in the Cannabis Industry, 3rd edition, I found information around Black and Hispanic-owned businesses in the legal cannabis industry underwhelming. Far too often invisible. From High Times Magazine to MJ Biz Daily, people of color are rarely included in the global lists highlighting key cannabis industry insiders in significant numbers. Only a few consistent names make the mainstream round-ups, largely focused on big name celebrities doing little to truly impact the industry’s public perception, government regulations or social equity.

For most, especially men of color, there are no shortcuts to success in the legal cannabis industry. Through the years, I have been inspired by those working passionately on the ground to make it happen for themselves and their communities. Yet, the stories of impactful work, inherent risks and incredible sacrifices of the Black and Latinx cannabis community remain far too often untold. Legitimate and visible representation matters to the future of this industry. While too many men of color have been rendered victims or criminals by prohibition, there are some making headway in legal cannabis. This list offers a glimpse into the ways Black and Hispanic men are trailblazing the legal cannabis industry. These 65 outstanding men are truly pioneers, reshaping the narrative around marijuana and hemp to push the movement beyond past incarceration and current domination by a wealthy and privileged few. This list of men to watch in 2020 aims to inspire, motivate and empower the next wave of professionals, entrepreneurs and investors looking for their successful path into the legal cannabis industry.

#1 Dr. Joseph Rosado, M.D. – Orlando, FL

As one of the first internal medicine doctors in Florida to recommend medical cannabis treatments for patients, Dr. Joseph Rosado is a global pioneer and best-selling author of Hope & Healing: The Case for Cannabis. He is the CEO of International Medical Consultants and medical director of Minorities for Medical Marijuana.

#2 Raft Hollingsworth III – Seattle, WA

Raft Hollingsworth III is the CEO and co-founder of The Hollingsworth Cannabis Company (THC Co), a Black-owned, family farm developing premium cannabis products for the Washington market. THC Co. has been featured on CNN, Buzzfeed and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

#3 Erik Range – Orlando, FL

Board Chairman for Minorities for Medical Marijuana, co-founder of Art 420 and founder of Monarch Manufacturing & Distribution, Erik Range wears many hats as an entrepreneur and leading advocate in the cannabis industry. A seasoned community engagement director, he is also co-host of CannaTalk with Roz, providing weekly cannabis insights and education. He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

 #4 Virgil Grant – Los Angeles, CA

Co-founder of the California Minority Alliance and a founder emeritus of the Southern California Coalition , Virgil Grant is an OG pioneer and staple in the California cannabis industry. A dispensary owner for over 15 years, he has been at the forefront of the movement for social equity since Prop 215 as both an entrepreneur and an activist.

 #5 Jim Jones – Global


Legendary hip-hop icon Jim Jones is the face of Saucey Extracts, a California-based brand known for a patented extraction methodology to create full-spectrum cannabis oil. Bringing his east coast flare to the Cali market, Jim Jones has been featured on cannabis panels at Source 360 Summit and Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo (CWCBExpo).

 #6 Leo Bridgewater – Trenton, NJ

Award-winning advocate and pioneer in the cannabis industry, Leo Bridgewater is the National Director of Outreach for Edify PAC, working toward responsible, regulated, and socially just cannabis access and distribution. A strong and well known voice for veteran access to medical marijuana, Leo is also the National Director of Veterans Outreach for Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM).

#7 Dr. Rasean Hodge, MD – Atlanta, GA

A native of New Jersey, Dr. Rasean Hodge is a family physician and medical director of Premier Chronic Pain Care in Atlanta. In addition to serving three times as “Doctor of the Day” for the Georgia House of Representatives, Dr. Hodge was a contributory factor in writing the law for HB 722 and its inclusiveness of Peripheral Neuropathy, as one of the qualifying conditions for participation in Georiga’s medical cannabis program.

 #8 David Kellman – Las Vegas, NV

David Kellman, an experienced cannabis cultivator and vape technologist, is the Strategic Partnerships Manager for The WeedHead™ & Company, working to de-stigmatize the plant and educate consumers on cannabis as medicine. A college athlete turned advocate of criminal justice reform and sustainable environmental practices, David uses his platform MoarBluntsnStuff to be a unique voice for millennials focused on conscious cannabis consumption and patient-centered regulations.

#9 Jason Ortiz – Norwich, CT

A cannabis advocate since high school, Jason Ortiz started his career in advocacy with Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and has worked with multiple organizations to put together model legalization bills for cannabis policy development. Today, he is President of the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), the first 501(c)(6) non-profit business league created to serve the specific needs of minority cannabis entrepreneurs, workers, and consumers.

#10 Javier Hasse – Global

Award-winning cannabis reporter with nearly 5,000 articles published on mass media, Javier Hasse is the author of “Start Your Own Cannabis Business: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Marijuana Business,” a #1 best-seller on Amazon via Entrepreneur Press. He is also Managing Director at Benzinga Cannabis and cofounder and CEO of El Planteo.

#11 Marvin Washington – Global

NFL Super bowl champion and cannabis advocate, Marvin Washington has become a leading voice in the huddle of former NFL players speaking out about the benefits of CBD for opioid addiction and CTE. He is the VP of Business Development for Isodiol, co-founder of Isodiol’s performance brand, Iso-sport and on the Board of Directors for Athletes For Care.

#12 James Victor – Oakland, CA

After 18 years of experience in executing top development and management projects in New York City, Florida, & Haiti, James Victor is the co-founder and CEO of James Henry SF, a responsible lifestyle, health and wellness brand with proprietary cannabis formulations for therapeutic use. He is also a member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) Medical Committee.

#13 Mehka King – Atlanta, GA

Mehka King is a journalist, host of the “CashColorCannabis” podcast, and the filmmaker behind The Color Green: Cash, Color, and Cannabis — a documentary investigating racial disparities in the cannabis space. CashColorCannabis is “a higher level of conversation” highlighting upcoming brands and voices in the budding industry.

#14 Rani Soto – Hoboken, NJ

A former NYC teacher and sales executive for JP Morgan Chase, Rani Soto is an educator, advocate and entrepreneur within the cannabis industry. After helping to launch the largest recurring cannabis industry networking event in New York, he is now president of Brote AG, a hemp distribution company. He also serves as National Director of Latinx outreach for Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM).

#15 John Gilstrap – Hudson, NY

Corporate-to-cannabis crossover, John Gilstrap went back to his farming roots as co-founder and VP Business Development for Hudson Hemp, an association of farmers located in NY’s Hudson Valley focusing on regenerative agriculture and soil science to cultivate organic sun grown hemp using environmentally sustainable practices. He is also co-founder of the NY Cannabis + Hemp Trade Association.

#16 Alphonso T. Blunt Jr.  – Oakland, CA

Alphonso Blunt is co-owner of Oakland’s Blunts + Moore, the first fully equity-owned dispensary in the world. An Oakland-native, Alphonso had been working to open a dispensary since 1999 before he was awarded a license by the city through the equity program lottery.

#17 Stanley Atkins II – Atlanta, GA

A U.S. Navy Veteran and retired firefighter paramedic, Stanley Atkins is an advocacy leader and medical cannabis healthcare educator in Georgia, where he played an active role in the formation and expansion of the GA Medical Cannabis Program (HB65) along with key decriminalization laws. Best-known as “The CanniMedic“, Stanley is the M4MM chapter president for Georgia and go-to cannabis resource for state legislators, brands and consumers in the market.

#18 Marcus Harcus – Minneapolis, MN

The most vocal public advocate for full cannabis legalization in Minnesota, Marcus Harcus is an experienced community organizer and former City Council candidate responsible for launching the Minnesota Campaign for Full Legalization (MN CFL) in 2017 after four legalization bills were introduced in the state legislative session. In his role as Executive Director, Marcus’ efforts helped to elect a pro-legalization governor in 2018.

#19 Jesce Horton – Portland, OR

Jesce Horton is a well known pioneer in the cannabis industry with many noteworthy accomplishments including co-founder of Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) and founder of award-winning Panacea Valley Gardens, a state-of-the-art Oregon cannabis cultivation.  Recently, he co-founded NuLeaf Project, specifically designed to address the various hurdles that people of color face when entering the cannabis industry. He is …

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Health Care

Congress Under Pressure: Colorado Officials Push for Cannabis Banking Reform




With the end of Congress’ session just around the corner, marijuana advocates, stakeholders and lawmakers continue to push for marijuana banking policy change.

This time, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) joined forces with Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera (D), Attorney General Phil Weiser (D), Treasurer Dave Young (D) and Department of Public Safety (DPS) Executive Director Stan Hilkey in urging congressional leaders to revisit the issue, reported Marijuana Moment.

In a letter sent on Monday to both House and Senate leaders, Colorado officials focused on the impact which a bipartisan marijuana banking bill will have in terms of public safety and industry equity,

“The lack of safe banking and financial services for the cannabis industry in the State of Colorado has become a dire public safety issue for highly regulated cannabis businesses operating in compliance with state …

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Health Care

New Data Shows Weed Legalization a Boon for Real Estate, New Jobs and Tax Revenue




A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank shed light on the economic impact marijuana legalization has had in recent years, reported Marijuana Moment. Policy changes on the state level have resulted in increased commercial real estate demand, as well as a surge in tax revenues while creating more jobs.

According to an analysis from the Kansas City arm of the Central Bank, which collected data from several states under its jurisdiction, the Tenth Federal Reserve District, the cannabis industry has become one of the main economic sectors positioned to grow substantially in the coming period.

“Overall, the marijuana industry has had a significant effect on the economies of Tenth District states in the initial years after legalization,” the report said. “The emergence of the industry has …

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Will Missouri Legalize Cannabis? Amendment 3 Suffers Another Attack This Time by State NAACP




Cannabis legalization efforts in Missouri are under attack once again, this time by The Missouri State Conference of the NAACP.

What Happened

The Missouri NAACP, breaking with chapters in the St. Louis area is urging its members to vote against Amendment 3 on the Nov. 8 ballot, reported the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.

The group announced Thursday that it believes recreational marijuana legalization, as it is proposed under Amendment 3, would prevent minorities from entering the cannabis industry. 

“Marijuana possession should not be a constitutional crime. Additionally, for years now, Black people, other minorities, and people who have been criminalized by marijuana laws in the past have been unable to enter the medical marijuana market,” the Missouri NAACP wrote. “That is not right. In an effort to prevent the permanent exclusion of minorities from the cannabis industry in the state of Missouri, the NAACP calls upon every voter to reject the criminalization of marijuana possession, de facto racist regulation of the cannabis market, and the wool being pulled over our eyes by the supporters of Amendment 3.”

Under Amendment 3, the first “comprehensive” cannabis business licenses would be provided to existing medical marijuana companies. 

The state’s chapter highlighted that the amendment “does not increase the number of available full market licenses” and claims that giving “micro” business licenses to disadvantaged groups makes a “very limited” program. 

According to Nimrod “Rod” Chapel Jr., president of the Missouri NAACP, members agreed last week …

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