Ahnya Smith Talks the Ups and Downs of Cannabis Industry and the Colored Cannabis Collective
Seattle-based cannabis enthusiast and activist, Ahnya Smith, decided that it was time for a change in the cannabis industry, so she established the Colored Cannabis Collective with co-founder Dominique Dabs. The collective is a non-profit organization that promotes diversity and giving back to the community. “The industry should be more than just cute weed pictures and private fancy parties,” says one of the first C.C.C posts on Ahnya’s Instagram page, which can be relatable to many individuals who are involved in this new and exciting industry. While pictures and events are a fun side to any business or brand, Ahnya reminds us that we shouldn’t forget that if we want to call ourselves a “community”, we should take environmental issues and minority empowerment seriously.
The C.C.C. has already facilitated a handful of city clean-up events, homeless drives and even had a voter registration drive during the 2018 midterm elections in order to encourage cannabis users to get out and vote. If you don’t have the opportunity to join one of these events, do follow them on social media and share information to help change the stigma around cannabis and cannabis users of all colors!
We smoked a blunt and a couple of joints with Ahnya, and asked her to answer some of our questions in order to find out more about her and her mission behind the C.C.C. project:
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, and your background in cannabis industry?
Well I'm 24, born in Ft Hood, Texas (I was an army brat) and my family’s from New Orleans. I moved to Seattle in May 2017. I got my start in the recreational cannabis industry 3 days off the plane. I started as a budtender, then was a shift lead and finally ended up in the inventory department receiving orders and preparing returns.
2. What made you think of starting the Colored Cannabis Collective? And what is its mission?
I spent my first year in cannabis just observing the lay of the land; seeing what was available to people, what they were doing with the new legality, and basically just getting comfortable. Once I met Dominique Dabs I saw how passionate we both were to be in an industry that represents everyone, and not just some people. I found an industry that actually gave back to local communities, even in the smallest of ways. Our mission is to promote community service, represent people of color in cannabis, and changethe stigma around cannabis for us all.
3. How do you see C.C.C. evolving and where do you see/want it to be in 5 years?
I have so many visions and goals for what I want CCC to do and become. I want us to start doing equity programs and help people to get their MMJ certificates. Five years from now I would hope to see us as a full-on 501c3, doing minority cups to highlight minority brands, and expanding to other cities and even other states.
4. What are some of the ups and downs of the cannabis industry, and what do you think we can all do to incite positive change?
The ups definitely outweigh the downs for me; I mean it is legal cannabis! There’s no longer a fear of being arrested for something that is so beneficial, not only for myself but for countless others. I love being able to make a legit career out of something I really truly love, the amazing people I get to meet all the time, and the parties are super fun too! But the downsides are also there. It's a young industry so people are still trying to figure out the right way to do business. I've both seen and experienced unfair treatment, favoritism towards friends instead of actual performance and merit, racism, sexism, harassment, homophobia, and transphobia. I don’t think people feel comfortable talking about it or calling it out but it’s there. And I feel like the cannabis industry could be an example of how to treat workers fairly if we all work together to not include people in the industry who lack respect for others.
5. What advice can you give to women in the cannabis industry? How can they provide more support to women of color?
My advice to women in this industry is to stick together. Lift each other up! Don’t compete or try to tear one another down! We can all eat in this industry. We can all reach our goals and be successful, and we can do it together. Stand up for your fellow sister if you see unfair treatment. Don’t just let someone be harassed or assaulted or mistreated in front of you; take a stand. This includes all women of all colors AND our trans sisters as well.
6. We adore what you do for the community and to spark positive change. Now let’s talk a little bit about cannabis and your relationship with it. What is your favorite time of the day to consume cannabis? And what are some of your favorite strains?
My favorite time to smoke is all the time! The beauty of cannabis for me is that there is literally a strain for anything and everything (and anytime) to make you feel how you want in that moment. I honestly find myself smoking before I do most things. It just makes everything better for me. I honestly don’t know how I would be alive today without cannabis. It's gotten me through some of my worst moments. My all-time favorites are Blackberry Kush, Seattle Sadist, ATF, Extreme Cream, Orange Kush Breath, and Forbidden Fruit.
7. How do you see the future of the cannabis industry?
I see cannabis being a revolutionary industry. I mean this plant is so wonderful and does so much good, being able to bring it to people on a federally legal scale would be such a dream. I definitely feel that it’s going to happen sooner than later. And I can see how it will mesh well with so many other industries like hospitality, tourism, and entertainment. Cannabis is a force of nature just waiting to be released and I honestly think it can be way bigger than anything any of us could have imagined. It has to pay reparations, though. The war on drugs ruined so many lives and there are so many people still suffering the consequences while we reap the benefits of legalization, and that's not okay. We have to be responsible and give back and even the playing field so that this legal market is available for us all, not just the rich.