OUR STORY
WHO WE ARE

Founded in late 2015, the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) is the first 501(c)(6) not for profit business league created to serve the specific needs of minority cannabis entrepreneurs, workers, and patients/ consumers. The organization currently serves members from across the United States. Its 15-member board of directors is comprised of a diverse group of cannabis industry veterans and activists from across the U.S.

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    MCBA VISION

    The cannabis industry will maximize its unique potential to serve as an economic accelerator and creator of opportunity, and improve critical social and health measures of all communities.

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    MCBA MISSION

    Our mission is to create equal access for cannabis businesses and promote economic empowerment for communities of color by creating policy considerations, social programming, and outreach initiatives to achieve equity for the communities most affected by the war on drugs.

''MCBA IS THE SUM OF THE EFFORTS, EXPERIENCES, AND FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF OUR INDIVIDUAL AND COMPANY MEMBERS.''

– Jeannette Horton, MCBA Member

OUR PASSION
WHY THIS AGENDA

COMBAT THE WAR ON DRUGS

The U.S. “war on drugs” — a decades-long policy of racial and class suppression hidden behind cannabis criminality — has resulted in the arrest, interdiction, and incarceration of a high percentage of Americans of color. The legal cannabis industry represents a great opportunity to help balance the detrimental effects of the war on drugs by creating an equal playing field for all people to benefit from the changing legal landscape.

BUILD A BETTER CANNABIS INDUSTRY

Unfortunately, currently, there are few minorities in the cannabis industry. MCBA believes heavy regulation, the high cost of entry, and information gaps hinder minorities from entering the industry as owners, employees, and patients & consumers. Removing these barriers to embrace all communities will increase the cannabis industry’s growth, contribute to its economic development, and display the positive impact of cannabis medicine.
OUR BOARD
MCBA LEADERS
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    Jason Ortiz, MCBA Board President

    Jason got his Bachelors degree in Public and Community Engagement from the University of Connecticut. He has been fighting to end the war on drugs since he first heard the words “School to prison pipeline”. He has worked on a number of progressive campaigns, both issue-based and electoral, with victories electing Strong Progressives to the School Board of Durham North Carolina, and changing drug policy law in CT.

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    Brandon Banks

    Brandon Banks is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Natural Selections Dispensary in Northglenn Colorado. After years of working for several fortune 500 companies including McDonald’s Co, JP Morgan Chase, and Philip Morris, Brandon moved to Colorado and transitioned to the medical marijuana industry. Beginning his career as a master grower he cultivated several award-winning cannabis strains during his time at Green Man Cannabis including High Times Cannabis Cup winning genetics.

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    Albert Harrington

    Al grew up in Orange, New Jersey, with a lineage of family from the South. As politics have shown, neither the South nor the East Coast is particularly friendly towards cannabis, least of all cannabis use within the Black community. Statistically, the Black community has been specifically targeted by law enforcement, with wildly disproportionate cannabis-related arrest numbers as compared to white offenders.

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    Ru Johnson

    Ru Johnson is a creative consultant, executive producer and strategy expert with a specific focus on marketing and arts advocacy for cannabis related policy, events and procedures. Her experience brings a wealth of knowledge on providing resources for communities affected by the war on drugs by creating platforms of expression that turn the tide of legalization using the arts as a method of operation.

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    Khurshid Khoja

    Khurshid Khoja is a Shareholder in Emerge Law Group, a minority and woman-owned, business law firm representing the legal cannabis industry.  He serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Cannabis Industry Association (“NCIA”) and as Co-Chair of NCIA’s federal Policy Council.  He serves as the Co-chair of the MCBA’s Policy Committee and co-author of its Model Municipal Social Equity Ordinance. Among other honors, Khurshid was profiled in The National Law Journal’s first ever Cannabis Law Trailblazers’ list, and was featured in The Hemp Connoisseur magazine’s “100 People You Should Know” issue.

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    Dr. Rachel Knox, MD, MBA

    Dr. Rachel Knox received her medical and business degrees from Tufts University after completing her undergraduate studies at Duke. She is trained in Family and Integrative Medicine, now providing focused consultation in the areas of Functional Medicine and Cannabis Therapeutics. Dr. Knox counsels over 500 patients a month throughout the Pacific NW and California in Cannabis Therapeutics.

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    Jessica Velazquez

    Jessica Velazquez is Managing Partner of Indiva Advisors, LLP, a CPA and financial services firm focused on assisting cannabis businesses and owners navigate the unique accounting, tax and financial industry challenges. As a first-generation Mexican-American, Jessica grew up in a predominantly Mexican immigrant neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago and experienced the social injustice of the War on Drugs firsthand, as it disproportionately affected her minority community. She wanted to help shift the conversation.

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    Brandon L. Wyatt Esq.

    Brandon L. Wyatt Esq., is a decorated army combat soldier and disabled veteran.He received his Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law. Despite being a business attorney, Brandon is dedicated to law & applied sociology in the arena of employment/ labor law, civil rights, disability rights, and Veteran’s health care. Throughout his legal education and career, Brandon has sought and undertaken targeted tasks which have cultivated keen analytical skills, a functional understanding of policy development.

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    Jazmin Aguiar

    Jazmin Aguiar brings close to a decade’s worth of experience to the cannabis industry with a specific emphasis on regulation, advocacy, licensing, strategy, and social equity. A bi-lingual business development expert within the national Spanish-speaking markets, Jazmin used her experience as a Los Angeles native to bridge the gap between business owners and government officials within California and across the border.  Awarded one of the first social equity licenses within the City of Los Angeles, Jazmin understands the challenges and obstacles facing the average applicant. Jazmin provides valuable expertise, consulting and support throughout the entire application process by helping empower, shape and streamline processes.    

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    Kaliko Castille

    Kaliko is the Head of Growth for the National Cannabis Industry Association, leading NCIA’s marketing, business development, and partnerships teams as well as working with the Executive Office to develop NCIAʻs organizational growth strategy. 

    Prior to joining NCIA, Kaliko spent the previous six years as a marijuana reform activist and freelance strategist. Starting out as a college intern for NORML he went on to become Co-Director for a political action committee raising money legalization in Oregon and later opened and managed a dispensary in Portland.

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    David Abernathy

    David Abernathy is President of Data & Government Affairs for a cannabis investment and market research firm called The Arcview Group.  A passionate advocate for social justice and cannabis reform, he’s worked in the cannabis industry since 2009.

    In addition to his work with The Arcview Group and the MCBA, David currently teaches Economics of Cannabis at Oaksterdam University, co-owns a miniature golf company, serves as a Trustee for a French American bilingual school in Berkeley and helps run a cat rescue nonprofit that opened America’s first cat cafe in 2014.

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    Todd Hughes

    Hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, Todd Hughes is a graduate of Howard University’s College of Engineering and Architecture, a serial entrepreneur, and community organizer. He has applied his  engineering and analytical skills, as well as his project management and business development expertise toward helping establish numerous businesses that practice corporate social responsibility and diversity across the country. Over the last 10 years, Todd has emerged as a thought leader and passionate change agent in the Cannabis Industry. His advocacy work has removed implicit biases, economically empowered entrepreneurs, facilitated reform, and enabled minority equities in an otherwise unstructured industry.

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    Barrington Rutherford

    As Cresco Labs’ Senior Vice President of Real Estate and Community Integration, Barrington Rutherford’s work on real estate and community integration has allowed the company to grow operations from one state to 12.  Mr. Rutherford’s work has been a critical component to Cresco Labs’ growth strategy to be one of the largest vertically integrated US-based cannabis companies.

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    Margeaux Bruner

    At Perpetual Harvest Sustainable Solutions, Bruner monitors and assesses trends, external environment and internal practices; makes recommendations to develop/adjust strategy to meet the changing business and market conditions as registered lobbying agent and consultants.  

    As former Political Director for the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, Bruner assuaged and liaised policy on behalf membership, comprised of licensees and ancillary business. She currently  serves on Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Marijuana Policy Workgroup, and held a previous appointment from former Governor Rick Snyder as a Commissioner on the Impaired Driving Safety Committee representing qualified and registered patients. 

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    Dr. Olga Obie

    Dr. Olga began a path to naturopathy, the study and practice of natural medicine, after exploring native medicine in Central America, South America and parts of Africa. Today she practices as a board-certified emergency physician in ERs throughout Texas, California and Louisiana. She practices as a board-eligible lifestyle medicine physician where she offers patients in-home concierge services.

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OUR STAFF
MCBA Staff
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    Amber Littlejohn, Esq.

    Amber is a policy attorney serving emerging and embattled industries. She currently acts as senior policy advisor for the Minority Cannabis Business Association where she has helped develop and implement the organization’s federal strategy. Prior to her work with MCBA, she served as business owner, counselor, and advocate for the cannabis and natural products industries on issues relevant to small businesses development. Through her work she has developed creative government strategies that expand and stabilize markets by engaging underrepresented business interests and communities.

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    TaJanna Mallory

    TaJanna Mallory has served as the Administrative Manager for the Minority Cannabis Business Association for the last 4 years. She leads the team that handles membership management, executes on membership benefits and provides administrative support to the Board of Directors. Outside of her work with MCBA, TaJanna is CEO of Modern Assistants, a virtual assistant company that provides highly trained virtual assistants to business owners and professionals within the cannabis industry.

    TaJanna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion from Florida State University and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Liberty University. She currently resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband of 12 years and their Chihuahua.

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    Carol Ortega Algarra

    Leader, visionary, pioneer and entrepreneur in the legal Cannabis Industry in the Americas. Founder & CEO of Muisca Capital Group, the first Latino investment management firm strategically focused on the emerging legal industry of medicinal cannabis.

    Founder & BOD Chair of the Colombian Cannabis Entrepreneurs Network – REC, which foster and serves through its programs and services cannabis ventures in Colombia, founding entity of the first cannabis science event in the Americas called CannaCiencia, a state of the art event that promotes science, research, investment and good practices of the analytical laboratory of Medicinal Cannabis in the Americas.