For the past two years, Laila Makled has worked at Stones’ Phones, a progressive political consulting firm in DC where she heads up their criminal justice, drug policy and LGBTQ reform work.
Inspired by Stones’ Phones work in 2014 on Initiative 71 in DC, in May of 2015 Laila started a DC chapter of Women Grow – a women’s business cannabis networking organization dedicating to empowering an intersectional group of women to start businesses and take on management positions in the cannabis movement.
When building the cannabis industry from the ground up, why is gender parity (having at least 50% women) so important?
Ensuring gender parity in a brand new industry is essential. Not only is it the socially responsible way to conduct business, having a diverse work force, one that incorporates the views of both women and men, increases productivity and overall happiness in the workplace. Gender parity is a no brainer.
What social justice and/or criminal justice reforms do you want the US to make around its drug policy, particularly around cannabis?
One policy that sticks out most to me is drug testing for a job. Companies like Wal-mart that employ mostly low-wage workers, which often translates to people of color, are still drug testing for marijuana. Legal prescription drugs like fentanyl and alcohol leave your system within 24 hours and are killing people in the US at astronomical rates, but an employer wouldn’t know if their new hire had a problem if they took a urine test after that 24-hour window. Marijuana on the other hand, which has no reported links to overdose, can stay in your system for up to two weeks. Drug testing for marijuana is hypocritical and racist to say the least.
Why are environmentally sustainable business practices essential to the future of the cannabis industry?
We can no longer pretend that global warming does not exist. As a movement that is based on a plant, it is essential that we create sustainable agricultural, packaging and testing practices that protect our Earth as well as consumers.
How do you incorporate gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability into your work and the growth of your business/organization?
There is no denying that consumers are starting to put their money where their mouth is. Especially when it comes to millennials like myself, we want to buy from companies that are rooted in social responsibility and that are giving back to their communities. We ensure at every Women Grow DC meeting that we are talking about the importance of intersectionality, where we ask folks to consider their own identity, and how race, gender, sexuality and class plays into that identity and how it effects how you view others and how others perceive you and your business. If we have an industry that is full of rich white men, or even rich white women for that matter, then we are no better than the tech boom of the 1990s.