“Minorities have always had access to cannabis. I’m more focused on the importance of minorities having access to business and job opportunities within the industry,” says Kevin Ford Jr., the founder, and CEO of Uplift Maryland. According to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC), 58% of Maryland’s cannabis business employees are minorities, but only 35% are owners.
Uplift Maryland, a forward-thinking organization focused on training minorities on how to be successful in the medical cannabis industry in Maryland, received one of five grants from the MMCC to develop cannabis educational and business training programs for minorities and women.
“Both of my parents are doctors, so growing up I always had an interest in the medical side of things,” shared Ford over the phone. His interest in medical marijuana was peaked even more when he realized he could use the plant to treat his classic migraines. “Classic migraines are the most debilitating headaches. Throughout college, I worked to figure out how to use cannabis during a migraine or even in preparation for one coming,” says Ford.
After graduating from Morehouse College in 2013 with a B.A. in Marketing, Ford returned home to Prince George County, MD., one of the most affluent black communities in the United States, to pursue a career in commercial real estate. Upon moving back home, Ford, who had already been advocating for cannabis for about 10 years, saw an equity disparity. He eventually went to work for Mary & Main, a black women-owned dispensary in Maryland, as an inventory manager before receiving the MMCC grant.
“I was actually one of the first employees at Mary & Main. During that time, I figured out that my knowledge base on the plant and the business together was way above average,” says Ford. “At that point, we actually applied for the MMCC educational …
Author: Lyneisha Watson / High Times