For more than a decade, Leah has been advocating for children and rational cannabis policies. She received a B.S. in Education from the University of Missouri, Columbia and taught in public elementary school for several years. After having her first of three children, she became a stay-at-home mom and, shortly after, a full-time cannabis reform activist.
Leah was thrust into activism after she and her family experienced a traumatic home invasion and raid for growing medical cannabis in Missouri. She and her family moved to Portland, OR and began working towards cannabis law reform. She was one of several people who helped found New Approach Oregon and she remained involved in the Yes on 91 campaign, creating a group entirely through grassroots efforts called Moms for Yes on Measure 91, which has now been renamed Oregon Moms for Cannabis Law Reform. Leah served as a spokeswoman and organizer, and collaborated with the Yes campaign to help cannabis legalization pass by a 12-point margin in Oregon.
After the legalization victory, Leah helped launch and co-chair the Portland chapter for Women Grow, which is now one of the largest cannabis business networking groups in the state, and played a big role in the development of the organization’s brand overall.
Leah also serves as the Branding and Outreach Manager at Yerba Buena Farms, a cannabis producer that was one of the first 8 recreationally licensed cannabis businesses in Oregon. She helps with marketing and community relations for the company and proudly represents their brand, which will undoubtedly be one that sets standards for cannabis businesses in Oregon and beyond.
Leah is one of the owners of The Weed Blog, the number one website for cannabis news and information, and contributes and sources content regularly for the site.
At the core, though, Leah continues to be a cannabis legalization activist, and hopes to see the prohibition of cannabis end on a federal level, and to see the cannabis conversation normalized across America.
When building the cannabis industry from the ground up, why is gender parity (having at least 50% women) so important?
Diversity is important in every industry. However, since the cannabis industry is perhaps the only industry we will see actually emerge in our lifetime, it is an excellent time for women to step up and truly shine as the leaders they are.
What social justice and/or criminal justice reforms do you want the US to make around its drug policy, particularly around cannabis?
I think that the numbers speak for themselves here….the disproportionate number of minorities who are arrested for cannabis related crimes each year compared to whites is staggering. Additionally, there is dire need for asset forfeiture reform, as well as reform work on other social justice issues that are directly correlated to cannabis-related offenses, such as labeling someone as a felon for nonviolent crimes and putting them in a category that prohibits them from getting loans, attending school, getting jobs, etc. The para-military style home invasion/raid we experienced in Missouri was proof of just that.
Why are environmentally sustainable business practices essential to the future of the cannabis industry?
Environmentally sustainable business practices are essential as this industry continues to roll out nationwide. At no other time in our planet’s history has there been such a massive demand for energy. The reason people cultivate indoors is because of prohibition. We need to move back to sun-grown [cannabis] and make sure that indoor growers are using renewable energy and sustainable growing methods.
How do you incorporate gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability into your work and the growth of your business/organization?
I incorporate all of these issues in my leadership of the Portland Women Grow chapter in the programming I have helped plan for our events, as well as in my writing for The Weed Blog and in my role as Branding and Outreach Manager at Yerba Buena Farms. They are some of the issues at the very core of what I hope to help with and to see the cannabis industry be able to accomplish as it emerges and expands.