SPOILER ALERT -- You won't find Snoop, Wiz Khalifa or Jay-Z on this list.
While researching for the latest update of our top-selling workbook, How to Succeed in the Cannabis Industry, 3rd edition, I found information around Black and Hispanic-owned businesses in the legal cannabis industry underwhelming. Far too often invisible. From High Times Magazine to MJ Biz Daily, people of color are rarely included in the global lists highlighting key cannabis industry insiders in significant numbers. Only a few consistent names make the mainstream round-ups, largely focused on big name celebrities doing little to truly impact the industry's public perception, government regulations or social equity.
For most, especially men of color, there are no shortcuts to success in the legal cannabis industry. Through the years, I have been inspired by those working passionately on the ground to make it happen for themselves and their communities. Yet, the stories of impactful work, inherent risks and incredible sacrifices of the Black and Latinx cannabis community remain far too often untold. Legitimate and visible representation matters to the future of this industry. While too many men of color have been rendered victims or criminals by prohibition, there are some making headway in legal cannabis. This list offers a glimpse into the ways Black and Hispanic men are trailblazing the legal cannabis industry. These 65 outstanding men are truly pioneers, reshaping the narrative around marijuana and hemp to push the movement beyond past incarceration and current domination by a wealthy and privileged few. This list of men to watch in 2020 aims to inspire, motivate and empower the next wave of professionals, entrepreneurs and investors looking for their successful path into the legal cannabis industry.
#1 Dr. Joseph Rosado, M.D. - Orlando, FL
As one of the first internal medicine doctors in Florida to recommend medical cannabis treatments for patients, Dr. Joseph Rosado is a global pioneer and best-selling author of Hope & Healing: The Case for Cannabis. He is the CEO of International Medical Consultants and medical director of Minorities for Medical Marijuana.
#2 Raft Hollingsworth III - Seattle, WA
Raft Hollingsworth III is the CEO and co-founder of The Hollingsworth Cannabis Company (THC Co), a Black-owned, family farm developing premium cannabis products for the Washington market. THC Co. has been featured on CNN, Buzzfeed and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
#3 Erik Range - Orlando, FL
Board Chairman for Minorities for Medical Marijuana, co-founder of Art 420 and founder of Monarch Manufacturing & Distribution, Erik Range wears many hats as an entrepreneur and leading advocate in the cannabis industry. A seasoned community engagement director, he is also co-host of CannaTalk with Roz, providing weekly cannabis insights and education. He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
#4 Virgil Grant - Los Angeles, CA
Co-founder of the California Minority Alliance and a founder emeritus of the Southern California Coalition , Virgil Grant is an OG pioneer and staple in the California cannabis industry. A dispensary owner for over 15 years, he has been at the forefront of the movement for social equity since Prop 215 as both an entrepreneur and an activist.
#5 Jim Jones - Global
Legendary hip-hop icon Jim Jones is the face of Saucy Extracts, a California-based brand known for a patented extraction methodology to create full-spectrum cannabis oil. Bringing his east coast flare to the Cali market, Jim Jones has been featured on cannabis panels at Source 360 Summit and Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo (CWCBExpo).
#6 Leo Bridgewater - Trenton, NJ
Award-winning advocate and pioneer in the cannabis industry, Leo Bridgewater is the National Director of Outreach for Edify PAC, working toward responsible, regulated, and socially just cannabis access and distribution. A strong and well known voice for veteran access to medical marijuana, Leo is also the National Director of Veterans Outreach for Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM).
#7 Dr. Rasean Hodge, MD - Atlanta, GA
A native of New Jersey, Dr. Rasean Hodge is a family physician and medical director of Premier Chronic Pain Care in Atlanta. In addition to serving three times as "Doctor of the Day" for the Georgia House of Representatives, Dr. Hodge was a contributory factor in writing the law for HB 722 and its inclusiveness of Peripheral Neuropathy, as one of the qualifying conditions for participation in Georiga's medical cannabis program.
#8 David Kellman - Las Vegas, NV
David Kellman, an experienced cannabis cultivator and vape technologist, is the Strategic Partnerships Manager for The WeedHead™ & Company, working to de-stigmatize the plant and educate consumers on cannabis as medicine. A college athlete turned advocate of criminal justice reform and sustainable environmental practices, David uses his platform MoarBluntsnStuff to be a unique voice for millennials focused on conscious cannabis consumption and patient-centered regulations.
#9 Jason Ortiz - Norwich, CT
A cannabis advocate since high school, Jason Ortiz started his career in advocacy with Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and has worked with multiple organizations to put together model legalization bills for cannabis policy development. Today, he is President of the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), the first 501(c)(6) non-profit business league created to serve the specific needs of minority cannabis entrepreneurs, workers, and consumers.
#10 Javier Hasse - Global
Award-winning cannabis reporter with nearly 5,000 articles published on mass media, Javier Hasse is the author of "Start Your Own Cannabis Business: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Marijuana Business," a #1 best-seller on Amazon via Entrepreneur Press. He is also Managing Director at Benzinga Cannabis.
#11 Marvin Washington - Global
NFL Super bowl champion and cannabis advocate, Marvin Washington has become a leading voice in the huddle of former NFL players speaking out about the benefits of CBD for opioid addiction and CTE. He is the VP of Business Development for Isodiol, co-founder of Isodiol's performance brand, Iso-sport and on the Board of Directors for Athletes For Care.
#12 James Victor - Oakland, CA
After 18 years of experience in executing top development and management projects in New York City, Florida, & Haiti, James Victor is the co-founder and CEO of James Henry SF, a responsible lifestyle, health and wellness brand with proprietary cannabis formulations for therapeutic use. He is also a member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) Medical Committee.
#13 Mehka King - Atlanta, GA
Mehka King is a journalist, host of the "CashColorCannabis" podcast, and the filmmaker behind The Color Green: Cash, Color, and Cannabis — a documentary investigating racial disparities in the cannabis space. CashColorCannabis is "a higher level of conversation" highlighting upcoming brands and voices in the budding industry.
#14 Rani Soto - Hoboken, NJ
A former NYC teacher and sales executive for JP Morgan Chase, Rani Soto is an educator, advocate and entrepreneur within the cannabis industry. After helping to launch the largest recurring cannabis industry networking event in New York, he is now president of Brote AG, a hemp distribution company. He also serves as National Director of Latinx outreach for Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM).
#15 John Gilstrap - Hudson, NY
Corporate-to-cannabis crossover, John Gilstrap went back to his farming roots as co-founder and VP Business Development for Hudson Hemp, an association of farmers located in NY's Hudson Valley focusing on regenerative agriculture and soil science to cultivate organic sun grown hemp using environmentally sustainable practices. He is also co-founder of the NY Cannabis + Hemp Trade Association.