Kush Kollective convenes dinner table conversations on cannabis careers and culture 

Dozens of experienced and aspiring professionals in the cannabis industry broke bread with one another April 30 for the inaugural meeting of Chicago’s Kush Kollective.

With the tagline “where Kulture Kollabs”, Kush is an education, networking and professional development organization for mostly African American entrepreneurs founded by YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago executives Robert Johnson and Kelly Evans.  

“Our goal is to create 1,000 new jobs and opportunities in the industry,” said Johnson, chief inclusion officer at the YWCA.

Johnson and Evans separately are involved with the National Diversity and Inclusion Cannabis Alliance of IL, which received funding through the R3 program. This program was signed into Illinois law in April 2019 and allocates cannabis tax revenue to economic development and violence prevention services. 

Participants in the dinner, which included dishes infused with cannabis, ranged from veteran cannabis operators and investors, to Illinois retail and craft grow applicants, to artists and creative professionals seeking to better understand how to transfer their skills to the booming bud industry. 

Dinner conversations focused on efforts to create black-owned businesses throughout the cannabis supply chain, as well as creative ways to connect cannabis culture cultivated from their communities to the existing industry, which is almost exclusively white-owned

Evans, former director of Community Integration at Cresco Labs, joined the YWCA last August as vice president of Entrepreneurship and Community Economic Development. Contact Evans at kellymich1908@gmail.com.

Missouri marijuana conference pushed to August

Organizers for MoCannBizConn + Expo, which was to take place at Union Station St. Louis later this month, announced last week that the annual industry event has been rescheduled for August 11 and 12

Grown In is a media and education partner of the conference and will provide in-person and virtual sessions focused on workforce development for cannabis operators and professionals transitioning to the industry.

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Brad Spirrison is a journalist, serial entrepreneur and media ecologist. He lives in Chicago with his son. Interests include music, meditation and Miles Davis.