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Community Voices: Lanett Austin

To bring about real change in this industry, it starts with the laws that make it.

Lanett Austin, Director of Talent Management & Diversity, Curaleaf, New York City

What does equality in the Cannabis industry mean to you?

For me, it means a healthy, inclusive, well-regulated Cannabis industry that provides for social, financial, and environmental benefits shared by all. Equality in the Cannabis industry means to support equal opportunity and provisions for communities impacted by the War on Drugs, so there can be fair and just opportunity to participate in the Cannabis industry. 

What needs to change about the Cannabis industry as it relates to equality/equity?

Legislation! To bring about real change in this industry, it starts with the laws that make it. Although decriminalization is a positive start, expungement of Cannabis crimes and employment for those individuals should not be negotiable. We believe individuals with low-level Cannabis related offenses should not be shut out of the industry – and as a commitment to right the wrongs of prohibition – we are employing at least 10% of all our 2021 new hires from the directly impacted communities.

What is the Cannabis industry getting right in terms of equality and equity?

Awareness and education of equitable opportunities are surely progressing, and as a reflection, we are seeing more diversity and inclusion efforts increase in this industry. Strategic partnerships that include diverse recruitment (e.g. Jopwell), and fostering inclusion through employee resource groups (ERGs) such as Women’s Cannabis Collective and Curaleaf In Color, have shown to make great progress to our industry goals of equality and equity.

Can you give us an example of something equitable you’ve seen happen in the Cannabis space?

As the leading Cannabis company, we have an obligation to change the false narrative that big Cannabis means bad Cannabis – and instead, we are showing that big Cannabis can be good Cannabis. Most recently and part of our Rooted in Good work, is the amazing partnership with Bernard Noble and Fab 5 Freddy in launching B Noble, a cause-based Cannabis product and brand that brings awareness to the countless people who have been negatively impacted by the War on Drugs, and serves as a reminder of the change and opportunity that can happen when people work together. Bernard’s story is a landmark case that demonstrates the impact of severe U.S. laws on Cannabis, and he represents one of the 600,000 people each year who are arrested for Cannabis possession and suffer collateral consequences. This time, the story does not end there!  #BNOBLE 

What challenges are facing the Cannabis industry in terms of equality and equity

Teamwork! Although MSOs (multi-state operators) don’t write the laws, we challenge more support and resources from the current and other MSOs to provide resources and programs. For example, we have goals around bringing in more diverse and minority-owned vendors, strategic partners, mentorship, lobbying for expungement, and developing more resources and programs that will also benefit our communities that have been most negatively impacted by the War on Drugs. We have a responsibility in this space to utilize our own resources, and we challenge our colleagues and industry leaders to take part!

About Tom Bowers

When he's not hunting down the tastiest stories and products the cannabis community has to offer, Tom plays guitar, master builds Legos with his kids, and plays with his dog in the park.

This article was originally published in the August 2021 issue of all Leaf Magazines.

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