BIPOCANN, Virginia Minority Cannabis Coalition, Nolef Turns and Columbia Care Join Forces to Drive Social Equity Opportunities in Virginia Cannabis Industry

The local cannabis organizations have united to educate, support and provide access to cannabis-related services and opportunities for BIPOC communities.

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September 29, 2021

September 29, 2021 – NEW YORK – PRESS RELEASE – Columbia Care Inc. announced today it is partnering with three organizations – BIPOCANN, Virginia Minority Cannabis Coalition (VMCC) and Nolef Turns – to offer social equity-driven resources for the developing cannabis community in Virginia.

This group of partners is dedicated to ensuring that Virginia’s BIPOC community has viable, competitive opportunities in the market, and supports three elements critical to effective social equity initiatives—justice reform, entrepreneurship and mentorship, and equitable representation. Columbia Care will be providing financial and educational resources to reach as many individuals across the Commonwealth as possible. 

  • Justice reform: Nolef Turns provides direct services to justice-involved individuals; advocacy that raises awareness of the need for resentencing, ending the war on drugs, probation and parole reform; and an expedited path to automatic expungements. Learn more about their program offerings
  • Entrepreneurship and mentorship: VMCC is committed to providing training and economic opportunities for individuals, especially those impacted by cannabis arrests, interested in pursuing a career in cannabis. Learn more about their upcoming boot camps for aspiring social equity entrepreneurs.
  • Equitable BIPOC representation: BIPOCANN is working to make the cannabis industry more accessible and profitable for BIPOC and other under-represented populations through their growing membership network designed to connect cannabis industry companies to diverse businesses and suppliers. Learn more about their network and upcoming webinars.

“The emerging Virginia cannabis market presents a new, unique, and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for historically marginalized communities to build economic wealth through entrepreneurship and business ownership,” said Ernest Toney, founder of BIPOCANN. “I am excited to partner with Columbia Care to make the industry more accessible for the next wave of minority cannabis business leaders in Virginia, and look forward to BIPOCANN being a vehicle for change in my native state.”

“This type of social equity work is not just about getting a job, it’s about leveling up lives,” said Paul McLean, founder of VMCC. “This is an opportunity for the Commonwealth to create a cannabis ecosystem that is built around economic inclusion. With this network of partners, we are accelerating work that I thought would take years and implementing it in just months.”

“We are a grassroots group and our work is heart to heart. It was significant to get involved in the cannabis conversation to ensure people who have been disproportionately impacted by the failed war on drugs are at the center of the end of prohibition,” said Sheba Williams, founder of Nolef Turns. “We want to make sure this legal process actually benefits the people who need it. This partnership will have a lasting impression on our work. We’ll be able to reach more people who have been impacted by criminal legal systems and want to learn more about expungement and cannabis.”

“Undoing the harms of prohibition requires more than laws--it takes community, outreach and resources,” said Ngiste Abebe, Vice President of Public Policy at Columbia Care. “As the market leader in Virginia, we want to see a thriving cannabis economy in which everyone can take part, especially those who have been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition. While Virginians wait for adult use laws to be finalized, partnerships like this can help prepare impacted communities to benefit from economic opportunities that have been explicitly created for them. We look forward to working with these partners and local officials to support an expanded, more diverse, more impactful cannabis community in Virginia."