As the new director of social equity and inclusion for the U.S. Cannabis Council and the Marijuana Policy Project, Tahir Johnson has a lot on his plate, advocating for social justice throughout the industry at both the national and state levels.
“We’re at a place where we’re on the precipice of legalization,” Johnson says of his new role. “It’s an especially important time for us to raise our collective voices to make sure we are not only legalizing cannabis, but keeping social justice and racial equity at the forefront of that conversation.”
Prior to joining the U.S. Cannabis Council this spring, Johnson served as the head of diversity, equity and inclusion at the National Cannabis Industry Association, launching the association’s equity scholarship program. He has also worked as a budtender and personally applied for licenses in both Maryland and New Jersey and tries to bring that perspective with him to his role at the national organization.
Before that, the Howard University graduate worked an investment advisor and served on the diversity council of Morgan Stanley. He was drawn to the cannabis industry because he saw the need for things like access to capital for minorities and says he wanted to help make a difference.
He wants social equity programs to be “a part of the fabric in the way that we approach legalization,” he says.
“Helping to provide programs and resources so we can be a positive change is important,” he says. “And holding ourselves accountable to those goals is a big part of what this is about.”