Sylvia Lee says the U.S. government gave her no choice but to get into the cannabis industry. And now that she’s here, she’s using it to bring change.
The co-owner of His and Her Grow in Oregon and new board of directors member of the Cannabis Workers Coalition, a Portland-based nonprofit that advocates for fair labor practices in the cannabis industry, Lee found herself a victim of the War on Drugs when a speeding stop led to a search that found cannabis in her car, a felony at the time in Arizona, where she was studying early childhood education.
“My dream of becoming a preschool teacher was shattered,” she says.
By the time she completed her restitution to have her record sealed in 2007, she had discovered a new passion.
“I decided that I’m going to do whatever I can to help the legalization, or at least the decriminalization, of cannabis.”
A “military brat” who was born in Korea and spent time moving between there and the U.S., Lee moved to California and set up three warehouses. Fifteen years later, she is still in the business and now as a board member of the Cannabis Workers Coalition, she is still working to make a difference by trying to bridge the gap between workers and the company, all still while pushing to remove stigmas and change laws.
“Everything I do today is so that another person doesn’t have to suffer the way I did,” she says. “Nobody should be penalized for cannabis, and you shouldn’t have your workers’ rights not available to you because you work in cannabis.”