For Tina Ulman, the journey toward cannabis legalization was personal.
“One too many people in my life lost their life to addiction and imprisonment for unjust drug policy,” she said, “and I am determined to help change the system for the next person who might also experience similar events.”
So far, the efforts of the legalization movement are bearing fruit, and Ulman has been a leader in mapping out the next steps for Nevada and the country.
As a co-founder and president of the Chamber of Cannabis, and brand manager for Old Pal, Ulman is helping make the industry more inclusive. The chamber was founded in October to foster resources and connections, and build relationships with political and judicial leaders. It has already scored major victories in the state.
Do you have any recent news to share?
This year we led the campaign to pass Assembly Bill 341, Cannabis Consumption Lounge Legalization, and AB400, Cannabis DUI Reform. We were also able to unite and elevate our cannabis community when most everyone felt disconnected and anxious. Nothing has been more fulfilling and needed for our mental health.
Why is the cannabis industry important to you?
This plant has the ability to positively impact minds, bodies and economies like nothing we have ever legalized before. We have embarked on a “Green Revolution,” and it’s imperative for people in the industry to operate with conscious capitalism and recognize it is a privilege to be in this space. Thousands of people have spent years in prison for cannabis, and now that we have the opportunity to create a thriving industry, we need to do it right and well, and not just what benefits the rich and well-connected.
The industry has enjoyed some major victories in recent years after decades of activism. What are the next three or four goals?
The next goals we will be focusing on are …
1) Continuing to increase the owner and operator opportunities in cultivations, producations, retail, delivery and laboratories for those left out of the first two license rounds, which include: Black folks, brown folks, females and those adversely affected by failed drug policy.
2) Continuing to work with the Cannabis Compliance Board to improve the regulations that were created at the beginning of adult legalization and should be revised to increase efficiencies, decrease waste and better support patient needs.
3) Deschedule and decriminalized federally.
4) Increase wages and benefits of employees. We have way too many people in Nevada only hiring part time because they don’t want to pay benefits.
What misinformation would you most like to clear up about cannabis?
That cannabis is a “gateway drug,” when it infact is an “exit drug” in many cases from substances that have ruined so many people’s lives, such as alcohol, prescription drugs, meth and heroin. We are now at a point where everyone knows someone whose life has been negatively affected by these substances to the point they lose their family, everything they have and their life. If we gave folks cannabis and counseling instead of arresting and imprisoning them, addiction and misinformation would look a lot different in the near future.
What will the recent cannabis legislation mean for the state? And why weren’t consumption lounges already a thing here? Was it just a blind spot in the original law that no one considered?
The recent legislation means dispensaries and independent owners will legally be able to open a venue that allows consumption of cannabis and infused food and drinks. Twenty independent lounge licenses will be issued and 10 of them will go to social equity and diversity applicants. This bill is also the first to establish what constitutes “social equity.” Consumption lounges didn’t exist prior because it was not included in Question 2, which was irresponsible on our political leaders’ part to not give consumers a legal place to consume. Thankfully, Assemblyman Steve Yeager and the current legislators thought differently and passed it this year.
What has been your most exciting professional project to date?
Creating and building the Chamber of Cannabis with my colleagues in the industry who have helped fill my cup in every way possible. Whether it be knowledge, love, light or memorable experiences, growing this organization has been overwhelmingly exciting this past year. The more I learned about the laws and industry demographics, the more I wanted to change them, but wasn’t sure how. So I became a sponge and a workhorse for the past two and half years, and so far it’s paying off.
What are you reading right now? Or binge-watching?
Other than going down rabbit holes on Instagram about the universe and current cannabis events, I enjoy listening to podcasts to get and keep my mind right. My favorites are the NPR Politics Podcast, Oprah Super Soul Conversations, anything Abraham Hicks and cannabis investing.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself as an owner and operator of a successful cannabis business — so successful I can donate thousands of dollars to organizations that support my passions and give others an opportunity to live out their visions. I see myself leading my community to more victories and shaping Nevada to be even more dope and thriving than it already is.
Whom do you admire?
I admire my parents for not tying me to a tree and leaving me there, because I talked so much and was quite sassy as a kid, and 100% worse as a tween and teen. I truly admire them for being wonderful humans who taught me more lessons than I could ever mention. I also admire my grandma, aunties and all my cousins who are some bad-ass women who know how to lead, love and laugh at all my jokes.
This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.