Meaka Brown, Cannabis Banking Regulatory Specialist at Green Check Verified – Interview Series
“It wasn’t so much my career path that led me to Cannabis, it was my family and my hobby that collided with the plant and thrust me in head first.”
If there’s one trait that can be labeled as a common denominator in the cannabis community, it’s gotta be passion. This one trait has caused the industry to attract people from very diverse backgrounds, all driven to change the narrative on cannabis.
About two decades back, not many people had envisioned a legal industry, let alone the prospects of building a thriving career in it. As a result, those who have found themselves in the industry often have an interesting story to tell. For Meaka Brown, it was her family’s influence and a hobby that paved way for what is now a thriving and fulfilling career.
Meaka Brown is the newly appointed Cannabis Banking Regulatory Specialist at Green Check Verified. In this interview, Meaka narrates how she moved from being a Boston city constable to running her own cannabis brand and eventually taking up a key position at Green Check Verified, the leading provider of cannabis banking solutions. She also shares insights on her new role as member of the Cannabis Social Equity Fund Advisory Board in Massachusetts.
As a brief introduction, how did your career path lead you to the cannabis industry?
It wasn’t so much my career path that led me to Cannabis, it was my family and my hobby that collided with the plant and thrust me in head first. I have been a City of Boston Constable for 11 years and had a budding hobby/side hustle since 2015. I make body care products, lotions, bath scrubs and tea blends. My Nana has had multiple knee surgeries and I wanted to create a product that could help reduce her pain, so I wondered if adding cannabis to my body care products would be helpful.
I started to research and eventually began to study herbal medicine with Karen Rose of Sacred Vibes, Brooklyn NY and Tammi Sweet of Heartstone Center for Earth Essentials, Ithaca, NY. I learned the principles of Herbal medicine with Karen and Cannabis Science and Medicine from Tammi. But even before that my Sister-in law was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer, She died in the Spring of 2017 and her medical card arrived the morning she passed away. I was deeply disturbed by this fact and became activated from there to learn more about cannabis and the industry and the laws that surrounded it. It began to take over everything, and thus led me to a career that is fulfilling in more ways than one.
You moved from mainstream law enforcement to the cannabis industry; how has this transition shaped your perspective on what truly needs to happen to create an equitable industry in Massachusetts and beyond?
I have lived most of my life in an ADI, Area Disproportionately Impacted by the War on Drugs. I grew up in the Roxbury section of Boston in the 80’s, when crack was raging through my community. I have seen the impacts first hand of what “drugs” can do to a community and how law enforcement relates to the people of those communities particularly in over-policing.
I have a fundamental understanding of the communities’ concerns when it comes to cannabis and the law, and I have an understanding of how law enforcement thinks and works. It allows me to aid both spaces and bring about meaningful change. I spend a lot of time with the Elders of my community educating them on what cannabis is and isn’t. Helping them to understand its benefits and make them aware of the plant’s history in this country and the rest of the world. Education and de-stigmatization are key in the creation of equity in cannabis. There are folks in the community who don’t know that cannabis has been decriminalized, that their records for simple possession can be expunged, and that they can have a career in the industry.
Most people look at equity from the scope of big business and make sure that this industry doesn’t get sucked into the capitalistic vortex of the U.S. My focus is on ordinary people who are still suffering from incarceration and limited access while everyone else is thriving in a billion dollar industry.
Can you briefly share about some of the plans that you are making towards building an equitable cannabis industry in Massachusetts as you serve on the Cannabis Social Equity Fund Advisory Board.
As a contributing member, I commit to upholding the three tenets of the Social Equity Trust Fund: providing necessary financial support to marginalized communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs; creating equal opportunities for small business owners who lack funding and resources and; ushering crucial inclusivity and diversity insights to a budding industry rooted in a long history of disenfranchisement and inequality.
What are some of the ways through which you will offer safe access to banking and financial services for cannabis business owners, especially overlooked and underserved BIPOC-led businesses?
I am currently working on a project to bring more Minority Depository Institutions in the Cannabis Banking Space. If we can introduce them to the ways in which they can safely participate in the industry, then they can begin to have a meaningful impact on the cannabis businesses in their neighborhood and begin to generate more wealth in their communities. Why should BIPOC led cannabis businesses have to leave their communities to bank in other towns and in some cases other states in order to access services. I am also working on a Social Equity Webinar to help banks understand why banking the underserved in the industry is vital and necessary to create a truly diverse cannabis space.
What’s next for Meaka?
I am working on a cannabis curriculum specifically designed for ADI communities that aims to educate, uplift and restore the people of those communities. I am relaunching my Babes Handmade Brand that I had to step away from for a while, and working on a line that incorporates CBD and THC into the existing Babes Handmade Body Care and Wellness Line.
That was one insightful interview!
It was a great pleasure to have this conversation with Meaka Brown, Cannabis Banking Regulatory Specialist at Green Check Verified. Readers who wish to keep up with how Green Check Verified is transforming the cannabis cannabis banking sector are welcome to visit their website.