Colorado’s Lightshade dispensary is a beacon for social responsibility, pioneering civic efforts to overcome racial disparities in today’s cannabis industry.
lack Americans have long had a history with cannabis that is distinctly different than that of white Americans. People of color have disproportionately suffered criminal conviction and incarceration from the US war on drugs. And Black Americans haven’t entered the legal cannabis industry at the same levels as white Americans either. That is slowly changing. It’s important to recognize these advances, especially during Black History Month.
Today, cannabis industry efforts to right the wrongs of the past run the gamut from prisoner-release programs and criminal expungement initiatives to ensure that Black Americans have a greater role in an industry that remains largely white, especially at its leadership levels.
Charisse Harris, Lightshade’s vice president of compliance and auditing, has spearheaded efforts to identify minority employees and mentor them for promotion within the organization. Her program has been so positively received that it is primed for further growth.
“Lightshade has supported my mission to help give greater leadership opportunities to people who might not otherwise have it,” Harris says. Lightshade, Colorado’s premier
cannabis dispensary, was one of the first cannabis businesses in the state to pioneer a social responsibility plat- form and give back to its community in ways that benefit Black consumers and its Black employees.
Reuben Droughns, NFL veteran and Super Bowl champion, reviews products and cannabis topics for the company’s popular Doobin’ with Reuben video series.
“Lightshade has given me a platform to educate others about cannabis products,” Droughns says. “Doobin’ with Reuben has provided me with a unique opportunity to advocate for the use of cannabis to help with pain management and anxiety relief, two things of importance to athletes of all kinds.”
Lightshade recently supported a series of monthly expungement clinics designed to help people of color and others negatively impacted by the war on drugs for low-level marijuana crimes. Though Colorado enacted legislation in 2020 to aid in this effort, many Black Americans have less access to information and advocacy, so the clinics provided needed assistance.
Lightshade’s efforts to promote equality and equity can shine as an example to the industry this month and beyond.