The Cannabis Cultural Association Is Fighting for Diversity

“We were the only black and brown people in the room.”

The Cannabis Cultural Association is 501(c)3 nonprofit based in NY which helps marginalized and underrepresented communities engage in the legal cannabis industry, emphasizing criminal justice reform, access to medical cannabis, and adult-use legalization.

We caught up with CCA to learn more about their mission and how they are advocating for people of color in the weed industry.

How did you get involved in cannabis?
The Cannabis Cultural Association or CCA began as an idea when our co-founders were at a local NYC industry event and realized they were the only black and brown people in the room back 2015. During this time they kept asking, "How do we get more people that look like us involved?" but no one ever gave them a straight answer.

From that the Cannabis Cultural Association or CannaCultural was born to ensure that we provide paths for those who are trying to plant their roots in legal marijuana. CannaCultural is dedicated to getting more people of color involved while providing a trajectory for long term success in the cannabis space. In 2017, the CCA obtained 501(c)3 nonprofit status to continue their mission to educate the people. Since then the CCA has hosted a variety of workshops and discussions for various communities in English and in Spanish.

CCA is one of the plaintiffs in the federal cannabis lawsuit currently in the second circuit alongside Marvin Washington, Alexis Bortell, Jose Belen, and Jagger Cote.

What’s your mission?
To help marginalized and underrepresented communities engage in the legal cannabis industry, emphasizing equitable policy/criminal justice reform, access to medical cannabis, and adult-use legalization. We like to see ourselves as the starting growth point for black and brown communities who are intrigued by the green rush.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, the CCA will be headquartered in a legal NYS and federally legalized United States of America as an institution for education. We foresee ourselves spearheading academic, corporate social responsibility, and socio-economic programs alongside other industries and cannabis companies for the betterment of communities that are still affected by the War On Drugs. Beginning with our current production in development "CannAbuelo," CCA will be a media powerhouse where we will provide more visual perspectives from cultures who have share a rich history with the plant. Through CCA's integrative programs, productions, and endeavors in places like South America and the Caribbean, we will continue to provide tangible opportunities nationally and internationally.

What are some of the biggest challenges so far?
The biggest challenge in working in the cannabis space is banking. Even as a non-plant touching nonprofit organization, we still struggled with access to banking after about a month of losing accounts. We soon found a consistent institution but we still may face potential banking issues since the federal mandate of cannabis still affects things like business loans, access to capital, and interstate commerce (Oregon legalized transportation of cannabis and this legislative measure could be used to prevent cannabis product shortages throughout the country)

What’s been the most rewarding part of this journey?
The most rewarding part of working in this industry is knowing we empowered someone to stand in their truth and do more in their community. From making a simple introduction to seeing the individuals that attended our events since our incarnation back in 2016 that we educated to succeed in their endeavors is the best feeling. 

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