Leah is a canna-journalist and advocate who lives in Portland, Oregon. She was very involved in cannabis legalization there, helping found New Approach Oregon and starting a group called Moms for YES on Measure 91 during the legalization campaign in 2014. She is one of the owners of TheWeedBlog.com, where she serves as the Editorial Lead and manages Outreach for the company. Leah also does freelance outreach and marketing consulting for cannabis companies and organizations. In 2015, she helped launch Portland’s Women Grow chapter, which she led for over a year. At the core, though, Leah is a cannabis legalization activist and hopes to see the prohibition of cannabis end on a federal level, and to see the cannabis conversation normalized across America.
When building the cannabis industry from the ground up, why is gender parity (having at least 50% women) so important?
Diversity is important in every industry. However, since the cannabis industry is perhaps the only industry we will see actually emerge in our lifetime, it is an excellent time for women to step up and truly shine as the leaders they are.
What social justice and/or criminal justice reforms do you want the US to make around its drug policy, particularly around cannabis?
I think that the numbers speak for themselves here….the disproportionate number of minorities who are arrested for cannabis related crimes each year compared to whites is staggering. Additionally, there is dire need for asset forfeiture reform, as well as reform work on other social justice issues that are directly correlated to cannabis-related offenses, such as labeling someone as a felon for nonviolent crimes and putting them in a category that prohibits them from getting loans, attending school, getting jobs, etc. The para-military style home invasion/raid we experienced in Missouri was proof of just that.
Why are environmentally sustainable business practices essential to the future of the cannabis industry?
Environmentally sustainable business practices are essential as this industry continues to roll out nationwide. At no other time in our planet’s history has there been such a massive demand for energy. The reason people cultivate indoors is because of prohibition. We need to move back to sun-grown [cannabis] and make sure that indoor growers are using renewable energy and sustainable growing methods.
How do you incorporate gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability into your work and the growth of your business/organization?
I incorporated all of these issues during my leadership of the Portland Women Grow chapter in the programming planed for our events. I also make sure that gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability are topics I regularly incorporate in my writing for The Weed Blog and in my role as Branding and Outreach Manager at Yerba Buena Farms. They are some of the issues at the very core of what I hope to help with and to see the cannabis industry be able to accomplish as it emerges and expands.