Accountability Into Action: Kassia Graham

As a part of our upcoming Diversity Education Discussions with MARY Mag, we’re going to be highlighting some words from our speakers to keep you satiated until January 18th.

Kassia Graham of Cannaclusive

What led you to launch your brand?

KG: Cannaclusive was founded by Mary Pryor, Tonya Rapley Flash and Charlese Antoinette Jones after they saw the need for greater representation of BIPOC people in cannabis. They were attending events in Los Angeles filled with people who didn’t reflect their own experiences or those of their diverse peers. I joined roughly a year later and have championed representing the various intersections of race, gender, sex, sexuality, weight and more.

Why is diversity and inclusion across the cannabis industry important to you?

KG: Diversity and inclusion across the industry are important because far too many Black, Latine, Indigenous and other marginalized people have been impacted by the war on drugs. Those who have endured this white supremacist, patriarchal, heteronormative, ableist, capitalist system deserve fair representation within the space. Representation spans more than the visual. There are many qualified marginalized people who are capable of creating content, directing operations and businesses, shaping company and cannabis culture as a whole and being in the boardroom.

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?

KG: I love the people and I love the plant. The plant is incredible and has the power to change the world. I believe access to cannabis is a human right.

How is cannabis connected to your life?

KG: Cannabis has always been a part of my life. My earliest years were spent in Jamaica. One of my granduncles was a Rastafarian. At approximately two years old I fell quite ill and he used cannabis-based plant medicine to save my life. 

I grew up in a home where my mother made tinctures and topicals to aid with pain relief. More recently I turned to cannabis—THC and CBD—as I battled back to back Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I used cannabis as a medicine complementary to the pharmaceuticals I was taking. Cannabis provided relief from physical pain, aided with nausea and calmed me when meditation and therapy weren’t enough. 

I love the work I do with the leadership team at Cannabis for Black Lives; assisting cannabis equity organizations with fundraising, amplification and shaping company culture. Also, I especially enjoy helping cannabis companies give back to marginalized communities by serving on the board of Broccoli Magazine’s Floret Coalition.

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.

KG: While attending New York University I became a Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar. The MLK Scholars program stressed academic excellence and volunteer work. Dr. King was such an incredible and complex man. I’m saddened his words and deeds have been watered down to a few ‘positivity only’ sound bites. He was a revolutionary, as are the Black, Latine and Indigenous people in the legal and traditional/extralegal markets. 

I urge everyone to read Dr. King’s ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ instead of repeating safe quotes that simplify his work, growth, and mission. Then, ask yourself how you are serving those who are marginalized. If you know you’re not doing anything or the bare minimum now is a good time to start the work.’