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Friday, October 7, 2022

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The educator: Dr. Lakisha Jenkins, President of the California Cannabis Industry Association

For now, the cannabis industry is like many other corporate spaces in America: white, male, and wealthy. These are marijuana heydays, and as the saying goes, money is like money.

That is changing. One of the Bay Area’s best-known and fastest-growing edibles companies, Aunt Dolores, was founded and run by women. And when the billion-dollar California cannabis industry starts lobbying in Sacramento, its public face is a woman.

A naturopathic physician, Dr. Central Valley-based Lakisha Jenkins is on a mission to rebrand cannabis as a natural medicine, similar to the other medicinal herbs on which many medicines are based.

This won’t be easy. There is a lot of negative publicity and the source is the industry itself.

“Most people in America are visual learners,” she noted. And with cannabis cups, the most notable visuals are scantily clad women running around in cubicles, “foot-long joints” and big dollops of concentrates sending dabbers into space. This presents a problem every time Jenkins tries to change the laws in the Capitol.

“When you go to these cannabis events, there’s almost no focus on the medicinal value of cannabis,” she said. “That’s why we can’t get regulation in the state. How are legislators going to take us seriously?”

This is one of the reasons Jenkins stocks medical marijuana buds at her holistic health centers Kiona’s Farm’Acy in Oakdale and Merced, but her focus is on non-intoxicating methods of medication: oils, tinctures, and other examples of marijuana as a wellness product instead of party help.

These are the products that appeal to people who would never smoke. Getting them on board could be the key to legal weed.

“Consumer education will make or break the industry,” she said. “If you focus on cannabis as a wellness product, people are open.”

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