Organization: Minority Cannabis Business Association
Kaliko Castille’s plans to teach history may not have worked out, so instead he’s helping shape history.
As president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, Castille works to ensure that the policies and regulations in the new industry not only make it equitable and inclusive but also provide opportunities to the communities most impacted by the War on Drugs.
“This is still a social justice issue, this is still a civil rights issue,” he says. “And I think we have a unique opportunity with the cannabis industry, to flip the script about creating a new type of industry that cares about its workers and about the communities that it affects.”
The Portland, Oregon, native has been with the MCBA for five years, but has been an activist for much longer, starting as an intern with NORML in 2011 and then running a political action committee that raised money for that state’s failed 2012 legalization measure. He started a dispensary soon after and then worked sales and marketing for industry startups. He joined the National Cannabis Business Association as director of marketing before taking his current role.
This past year, the MCBA released its National Equity report that assessed all the legalization bills on whether they helped achieve an equitable outcome. The organization also launched its Grassroots Committee, to help support equity measures around the country. Castille also ran for office himself, though he ultimately lost his primary.
“I think it’s really hard for us to teach politicians, in a very compressed time window, decades of history that’s been swept under the rug, when we could be running people from our own movement and our own industry,” he says.