I was really excited to get involved in the cannabis industry, especially after I learned how much cannabis was helping me with my mental health issues, which are both many and varied.
When I first met Canadian Women in Cannabis otherwise known as CWIC, I was leaving a meeting at SFU for CJSF radio when I walked into a group of about forty women smoking cannabis, everything in me jumped for joy.
I attended a meeting a few weeks later that was filled with words like “diversity,” and “inclusion,” but after five years I’ve seen absolutely none of that. Years ago I offered to run the official Twitter and Facebook accounts, because I’m really good at networking and after months of “well maybe, and we’ll see,” I finally stopped offering, and I’ve not heard anything in about a year from any of the women, I got busy and disengaged.
Eventually, I stopped taking the initiative, and I stopped trying to come up with ways to include and add diversity to these white lead groups.
So I decided that I am done, with all of them, I am done being the “Token Black Woman,” until it was time to pay the Black woman. Khadisha Thornhill is on the Board of directors for EduCanNation which I find fantastically hilarious because when we were meeting every week last year, she was nowhere to be seen.
But when there’s a seat on the board, the only Black woman who supported that group wasn’t made aware and wasn’t offered the chance to participate, but Khadisha who runs ACBS with 800 women behind her, she’s offered the chance? That’s not diversity, that’s not fair. It’s a really crappy way to treat someone you call a friend.
Every time I’ve tried to do anything with any of these groups I’ve been told to “wait until it’s time,” which usually translates to “wait until we can find money to pay someone else, who has a larger following.” Okay fair enough, you want to get your message out to as many people as you can, but if your message only supports the women who can do for you, instead of the women who were there at the start, then what is it you’re really trying to say?
I understand that things have to happen in order, that’s why I haven’t launched my own cannabis website yet, but to be constantly spoken down to, as I was many times by Stephanie Massey, or the other women in the group, to be constantly told that “there will be money to pay you,” only to find out that no one even bothered to ask if I wanted to run for a seat on the BOD, is frustrating, at the very least.
Last year in December I approached Stephanie Massey to ask her if I could speak to her, I had all these issues that I wanted to dissect with the woman who arguably was the leader of Education, I was told “no,” just like that. I said thank you and told her that answered my questions. On May 20th, she sent me a message asking how I and doing. I haven’t responded.
Because my life is shit right now, and all of the women who started these groups with promises of support, not only failed badly at providing that support, they did so willingly and wantingly, refusing to acknowledge their part in the hurt that I was experiencing.
About two months ago someone approached me with an NDA from Khadisha Thornhill and explained that several people were ordered to sign it, then I come to find out that the woman who came up with the idea to start the group Natalie Cox allegedly did not leave because she wanted to leave, but because allegedly, Khadisha Thornhill kicked her out of the group after Natalie asked for a much-needed break.
Given what I’ve been through with these women that actually track. I was told by Natalie, and Kahdisha, that hearing me talk from a “Constantly white gaze,” was “too much,” for members of the group. I ultimately decided to leave the group because I was so hurt, and devastated my first decision was to pick up a bottle of vodka and get drunk. Over a Facebook group.
When I saw the NDA, I was enraged, but I ultimately decided not to say anything, because I didn’t think it was my place, but now I’m just fucking angry. I am angry that the same women who claimed 3 years ago, to be starting groups designed to inspire, educate, and support Black women, are doing anything but.
Let me ask you this, why the fuck do you need an NDA to participate in a Facebook Group? Why are you quoted as saying that you think “you can make about 100k by the end of the year, off the women in the group?” Why are you making it impossible for people to ask questions? Why are you supporting a White woman-led group, when you spent years talking about them behind their back saying they don’t support Black women and that they are “culture vultures”?
Why are you – and why have you – been seen on video camera, laughing about the women of EduCanNation, while knowing full well you were going to sit on their board? Which is it Khadisha? Are they culture vultures? Or are they inclusive? Because they can’t be both.
The women of EduCanNation know that I’ve been going through a hard time, and when they talked about how much they were going to charge for their weekly meetings, they absolutely promised to make it accessible.
Until recently they were charging about $1500 a year to join, they’ve since lowered their prices to $650 dollars a year. I was told that I’d be allowed to participate in the weekly meetings as a volunteer, but honestly? It didn’t feel right to continue, it felt gross, it felt exclusive, and it felt like I was only there because I was the only Black woman, but thankfully Ms. Khadisha has saved the day, by taking my place, I no longer need to be the token Black woman.
The problem with these groups is the same problem that has infested the entire cannabis industry. You start out with a good plan, with the idea that you want to create spaces for women to feel included, but your behaviour is anything but inclusive, and honestly? I’m tired of the excuses. I’m tired of it being about how much money you can make, and who has the biggest platform, as opposed to offering the promised real support.
When I’ve talked to these women about Donna, the founder of Canadian Women in Cannabis, I was told she’s “busy” but interestingly she’s not too busy to do interviews, she’s not too busy to work with white women, but she’s certainly too busy to work with me.
I hope you enjoy taking my spot Khadisha, although you absolutely won’t measure up, you’ll be exactly what they need. The willing Token Black woman, with 800 women standing behind her, having absolutely no clue how awful, manipulative and downright evil, you can be.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall