Dasheeda Dawson talks a little fast, but she’s got a lot going on.
Dawson is the founder of lifestyle brand and consulting agency The WeedHead & Company, author of “How to Succeed in the Cannabis Industry” — now in its third edition — and the co-host of the She Blaze podcast. She’s also the co-founder of Cannabis Education Advocacy Symposium & Expo (CEASE), founding chair of the Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition and chief strategist of the Cannabis Health Equity Movement.
And in 2020 Dawson was named cannabis program supervisor for the city of Portland, Oregon.
It’s no wonder that she gets up at 4 a.m. on the West Coast to be able to make calls across the country before focusing on her work with the city of Portland, where she oversees all regulatory, licensing, compliance, equity and educational initiatives for the city’s medical and recreational programs.
“It’s a busy day, but all of the hats are all nested together,” she says. “I’m never not talking about cannabis, but it’s the intersection of cannabis science, business and policy with the foundation of education.”
Dawson’s career has always been about expanding opportunities and helping to educate consumers. She began her journey with a molecular biology degree from Princeton and the goal of becoming a doctor, but pivoted to the business side in working with nonprofits like the United Way, before getting her MBA from Rutgers. She also has experience in the retail sector from time at Target and Victoria’s Secret.
But ahead of anything else, Dawson considers herself a cannabis patient first, using the plant to help treat her early signs of multiple sclerosis, and that continues to shape her focus today.
“I feel the cannabis plant is underutilized and part of that is because we don’t have the proper science-based education and we don’t know the history of the criminalization,” she says. “I’m always looking how we expand the pie, because cannabis is expanding right now, and how we do that equity-centered.”
— Brian Beckley