Laila Makled is the Manager of Operations for New Frontier Data where she works to build systems and processes to streamline sales and employee on boarding. She joined the team in July 2017 from Stones’ Phones, a progressive political consulting firm in Washington, D.C., where she worked with such clients as the American Civil Liberties Union, Drug Policy Alliance, and the Human Rights Campaign. While there, she ran an on-boarding and training program to facilitate the success and retention of new employees.
Laila is also the Advocacy Relations Chair for the annual National Cannabis Festival (NCF) in Washington, D.C. In that role, she coordinates the participation of 28 drug policy and criminal justice reform advocacy groups, including Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the National Cannabis Industry Association, and Congressional speakers such as Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Rep. Tom Garrett, Jr. (R-Va.), and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.). From 2015-2017, Laila was the founding chair of the D.C. chapter of Women Grow, an international women’s cannabis business networking organization. As chair, Laila hosted nearly two dozen networking events in the Greater Capital Area, and helped draw more than 1,000 attendees with guest speakers including Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and such business leaders as Giadha Aguirre De Carcer, New Frontier Data’s founder and CEO.

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, especially a billion dollar industry. We have a unique opportunity to build an entire market around equality, of which we cannot say is true of any other industry that has come to fruition in the US.

Not only is gender parity the socially responsible way to conduct business, having a diverse work force, one that incorporates the views of all genders (including gender nonconforming people) 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?

There are too many to count, but the one I will detail here is drug testing in hiring. While drug testing is pervasive across low and high wage jobs, 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 would be none the wiser if the future employee took a urine test after that 24-hour window. Marijuana, on the other hand, which has no reported links to overdose worldwide, can stay in your system for up to a month. This is not even touching on the fact that there are people that use cannabis medicinally that do and do not live in medicinal states.

Drug testing for cannabis is hypocritical, cruel, and racist…to say the least.

Why are environmentally sustainable business practices essential to the future of the cannabis industry?

Global warming is real and we only have one home. 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?

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. When I was the Chair of Women Grow DC, we ensured at every meeting that we talked about the importance of intersectionality. We asked folks to consider their own identity, and how race, gender, sexuality and class have played into that identity. Then, we would discuss how that identity effects how they view others and how others perceive them and their business.

There are millions of different ways to walk through this world, and there is no possible way we can consider them all, but we must always be willing to show compassion, admit we are wrong and that everyone, including ourselves, has implicit biases.

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.

Facebook: Laila Makled

Twitter: @lailafred

Instagram: @lailafred

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