Diasporic Alliance for Cannabis Opportunities (DACO) hosted the 2018 Cannabis Opportunities Conference at the Temple University Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA from October 19-20, 2018 in partnership with Pennsylvania State Senator Sharif Street. The DACO conference, founded by two African- American women, Cherron Perry- Thomas and Desiree Ivey provided an unprecedented opportunity for advocates, lawmakers, community stakeholders, and entrepreneurs in the growing cannabis industry to network and engage in discussions on opportunities and restorative justice for underrepresented global communities. Over 750 people attended the conference which included a job fair, record expungement workshop, exhibition hall, and presentations by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, video message by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Keynote Speaker, Chanda Macias. The conference was also one of the first to include voices from the African continent such asAlbertus Kleingeld from Lesotho and Dr. Zorodzai Maroveke from Zimbabwe.“It was important for us that the conference be inclusive of Black and Brown communities throughout the diaspora where this herb has been used for healing for centuries. As the world moves closer to global connections so should the global cannabis community. The potential of growth is projected to be fruitful and Black and Brown communities around the world should be included through shared value strategies. It was monumental to have participation and insights at the conference from some of the leading cannabis voices domestically as well as Lesotho and Zimbabwe, the first countries in Africa to legalize cannabis,” shared Cherron Perry-Thomas, the Director of Social Impact at (DACO).
The conference’s theme “Seeking Higher Ground and Equity in the Industry” was reflected in the diverse programming of workshops, talks and presentations held over the 2-days that were divided into 4 categories ; Economic Opportunity, Educations & Family, Medical & Wellness, Policy/Legal & Social Justice with the following topics:
Parent Caregivers: By Any Means Necessary
Black Vets Speak Up
The Diaspora: Life with Sickle Cell
Qualifying Conditions: Before You Get A MMJ
Gotta be a better way: chronic pain management
Cannabis in the Diaspora Dewey workshop
Hemp history: Before There Was Cotton Nate
Weeds Do Grow: Conversating with Woke Educators
New trends in Education: A Cannabis Workforce
Branding Your Cannabis Business
Straight Outta Lesotho
Blockchain: Land Ownership On Our Own Terms
Cannabis and Tech
Black Canna Biz: Solutions for Community Empowerment
Zimbabwe’s Dr. Zorodzai Maroveke and South Africa’s Willem Jonker shared their experiences and research via video recording while Albertus Kleingeld, a partner at Webber Newdigate, a law firm based in Maseru, Lesotho led the session “Straight Outta Lesotho: An African Update”.
“Lesotho’s decision to view marijuana as a source of national revenue rather than a petty crime positions the country as a pioneer on the African continent, however, there is still a lot of progress to be made. African nations are dragging behind Western nations with respect to cannabis legalisation because of the underlying notion that its use is abnormal and disgraceful. This stigma has slowed down efforts of the Government and the legislative system to legalise and tap into the lucrative global marijuana industry. As a global society, it is time we rectify, restore and re-normalize healthy positive attitudes & perceptions towards cannabis,” said Kleingeld whose firm advises a majority of cannabis license holders in Lesotho and South Africa on various commercial and regulatory matters.DACO organizers Perry-Thomas and Ivey were inspired to organize a conference targeting people of color after attending other major conferences that had little representation. “2019 marks the 400 year that many enslaved Africans were brought to this country and since that time there have been biased laws to ensure the wealth gap. There are estimates of $24.5 billion in sales by 2021, this revenue can translate to tax dollars for schools, elder care, job creation and innovation to better our communities. Black and Brown communities have to advocate for access, equity and policy reform to be included in this industry. Without the information we don’t know what to ask for, where to go or what to do. The DACO conference was our effort to raise the awareness and opportunities for marginalized communities throughout the world on the topic of cannabis. We plan to continue to build alliances and forge ahead for a more positive impact on the planet, people and the plant,” added Perry-Thomas.