Two days before the portal for new Maryland adult-use industry licenses specifically for social equity applicants opened, Tea Pad hosted Michigan-based Chris Jackson to share the seeds of success for cannabis industry social equity applicants and industry professionals. It was an evening of live jazz, good eats, plentiful libations, and provocative conversation. The evening brought together folks sharing the Tea Pad's commitment to equitable participation in the cannabis industry.
After the first hour of networking, Executive Director of Veterans 22 Initiative and Army vet Shanetha Marable-Lewis, MS, shared her commitment to Vets' 22 mission. She shared an impactful message that 44 veterans commit suicide every single day as they battle the impact of their PTSD and the opioids used to treat those symptoms. Shantehta is committed to educating veterans on the value of using plant-based medicine to treat PTSD.
Chris then inspired everyone in the room with his lessons learned as an experienced cannabis entrepreneur operating in the mature cannabis market of Michigan and as a leading national cannabis social equity advocate. Chris specializes in government relations, social equity programming, and project expansion/management. As a Michigan-based cannabis entrepreneur and social equity advocate, he has witnessed how cannabis prohibition directly impacted urban America. He is dedicated to reversing the harmful damage caused by inequities across all industries that impact communities of color, as seen in his work as the Executive Director for the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus. Chris is a member of various state and local boards, contributing to economic power and initiatives to drive diversity and inclusion. Aside from representing the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) as Vice Chair for the Board of Directors (the first Black Board member), Chris also serves as Chair for the AQUME Foundation, which focuses on BIPOC equity efforts.
Chris' powerful vital seeds for success:
After the night's program, Dyra Wolf and her band turned the volume up! Tea Pad Board member Carl "Slim C" Koebel joined the band to a packed house and rapped "It's a Tea Pad Thing" which he wrote.
"We're gonna change the way the game is played
Elevate the world and make a change
Share the science
with cannabis, Baby,
It's a Tea Pad thing."
On May 11, 2023, Tea Pad was back in Maryland's state capitol Annapolis with the Dyra Wolf band and hosted Delegate C.T. Wilson. The room was packed!
“The goal in Maryland wasn’t to get our Marylanders high,” Delegate C.T. Wilson, a Democrat who chairs the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee. “It was to take cannabis out of the criminal stream of commerce, protect young Black men from being arrested and dying and, additionally, give back to the communities that were most disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.”
Delegate Wilson wrote the bill Cannabis Reform which became law in May and stands up Maryland’s cannabis adult-use industry. Thecannabis adult-use market goes live on July 1, 2023.
While speaking at Tea Pad, Chair Wilson shared that he personally did not vote for adult-use legalization but fully understands the critical need to prioritize opportunities for social equity applicants with a sound economic policy to combat the illicit cannabis market as well as address the criminalization of cannabis. He answered questions about the different types of licenses and the 9% tax rate on adult-use cannabis. As he answered several questions (there was a line!) from Tea Pad attendees, he repeatedly shared that this law is just the beginning. There are regulations to be established.
In 2010, Chair Wilson was elected to represent the 28th District in the House of Delegates at the Maryland General Assembly. During his first term, which officially began in 2011, he served on the Environmental Matters Committee and as a member of the Black, Democratic, and Veterans Caucuses. Delegate Wilson has brought forth and supported numerous pieces of legislation that have now become Maryland law.
On February 9th at the Light House Bistro in Annapolis, we were joined by our featured guest, human and civil rights advocate Chairwoman Jheanelle K. Wilkins. Chairwoman Wilkins shared goals for the 2023 Maryland General Assembly and for the Maryland cannabis industry.
Along with prioritizing opportunities for Maryland individuals and communities most harmed by the War on Drugs in the new adult-use industry, Chairwoman Wilkns said establishing a criminal justice policy that prevents police officers from stopping drivers and searching vehicles just because they smell cannabis are priority for the 2023 Session.
Chairwoman Wilkins' legislative achievements include legislation related to addressing maternal health disparities, justice transformation and curbing racial profiling, and advancing educational equity. She is the first Black woman to represent Maryland's District 20 (Montgomery County) in the Maryland House of Delegates. Today, she leads The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, Inc. (LBCM). LBCM is an organization of 60 members who dedicate themselves to the mission of ensuring that Black people in the great state of Maryland are equally protected and benefited by the promises of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as afforded by the United States Constitution. LBCM is the largest Black Caucus in the U.S.
LCBM has been instrumental in the advocacy and passage of legislation that has benefited Blacks, and all Marylanders, since the 1970s. The Black legislators and community leaders, who serve as members and partners of the LBCM have stood steadfast and united in articulating public policy positions that promote Black progress in Maryland.