What led you to launch your brand or get into the industry?
RK: Both cannabis and it’s industry have the potential to heal individuals, communities, and economies, but lack holistic and integrous stewardship. This awareness, coupled with the dearth of medical professionals in the space, inspired my foray into cannabis medicine, cannabis policy and regulation, and cannabis health equity work.
Why is diversity and inclusion across the cannabis industry important to you?
RK: Cannabis health equity is what’s most important to me. Diversity and inclusion are only metrics, while health equity is an outcome, a true destination. Diversity and inclusion are important indicators of equity; they are variables that affect equity, but they are not end points. They must create results. If our goal is diversity and inclusion, or even just economic or social equity, we will never approximate what I think we really want: wellbeing and prosperity. I feel the same way about social equity in cannabis. Social equity, i.e., fairness in policy and the distribution of social services, is a vehicle. It’s the “who” “where” “when” and “how.” It is not the “what,’ the output. Health equity being the destination, I care that the regulation, taxation, opportunities, and innovations of cannabis are leveraged and measured such that we ensure that cannabis creates demonstrable economic equity, environmental equity, and human equity for all people beginning with those most harmed by the War on Drugs.
How is cannabis connected to your life?
RK: Cannabis is the currency of my health equity work. It’s the single most powerful tool we have to transform individual health, the health of communities, the health of societies, and the ecological health of the earth.
What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?
RK: Social equity is failing in cannabis because the very policies and regulations that govern the cannabis industry aren’t 1) in and of themselves equitable and 2) designed to achieve measurable and meaningful outcomes. Social equity add-ons don’t make the cannabis industry inherently equitable, so equity advocates must fight for equity at inception by being in the rooms and at the table where policies and regulations are being drafted. There is no time to delay.
With this discussion being on MLK Day 2021, discuss the importance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s impact in your life OR share your favorite MLK quote.
RK: Martin Luther King Jr. was a disrupter who challenged the very framework of disparity and oppression. He was also a faithful man of action who called others to act, understanding that faith without work is dead. But when I reflect on his work and his call to arms in 2021, I realize that most have, unfortunately, relegated him to an ideal when we should be taking up his mantle. He was radical, and called on us to be radical, too. He knew radical action was necessary to actualize prosperity. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m here for it, and believing in, demanding, and creating pathways for health equity through cannabis is the most radical thing I can do within my wheelhouse. MLK loved (an action word) his people and all of humanity radically, and I hope MLK 2021 is a day that inspires people to embody his radical love and become, in their unique capacities, the vehicles of social change we want our laws and regulations to be. The outcome of transformational impact begins with us.