The Cannabis Trade Federation has launched a taskforce designed to promote greater diversity, inclusivity, and equality across the U.S. marijuana industry.

The taskforce features a number of prominent civil rights leaders, senior executives from some of the country’s largest cannabis firms, and small business owners within the sector. The group will work to diversify the cannabis industry and ensure that “the communities that bore the brunt of cannabis prohibition” will be able to “reap the benefits of legalization”.

The taskforce chair is Linda Mercado Greene, who owns and operates a medicinal marijuana dispensary called Anacostia Organics in Washington, D.C. “As a dispensary and small business owner, I am excited to get to the serious work of making sure more women and people of colour like me are at the table, in the boardroom, and employed in the industry,” she said.

NAACP president and chief executive Derrick Johnson and vice chair NAACP give the taskforce considerable credibility, while former U.S. Congressman Carlos Curbelo adds weight.

Also on the board is former NFL star Eugene Monroe, an offensive tackle who played for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens during a seven-year professional career. He had to retire aged 29, citing concerns over head trauma sustained during his career, and he has since gone on to become a prominent advocate for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

Monroe was a trailblazer in encouraging marijuana for pain relief among football players, but the likes of Marvin Washington, Eben Britton, Leonard Marshall, Nate Jackson, Jake Plummer, Jim McMahon and Kyle Turley have since joined him in campaigning for the NFL to change its stance on cannabis.

Industry heavyweights on the taskforce include Curaleaf CBD leader Lindsay Jones, Green Thumb Industries corporate counsel Akele Parnell, and Yolanda Caraway, president and chief executive at The Caraway Group.

This 26-strong group will work with the CTF board on developing a strategy that leads to greater diversity within the cannabis industry. Ultimately, it will result in a policy that will be adopted by the CTF board, a group that includes many of the nation’s leading cannabis companies, including Curaleaf, iAnthus, TILT, Cresco Labs, Dixie Brands, and many more.