Before becoming the first female member of Canopy Growth’s C-Suite as Chief Advocacy Officer, Hilary Black spent four years as the Director of Patient Education and Advocacy. Hilary also started the country’s first medical cannabis organization, the B.C. Compassion Club Society. With her experience, knowledge, and passion for cannabis, Hilary brings a strong voice to patients and cannabis consumers all over the world, fighting to make sure stigma is torn down around the globe.
To me, working in cannabis and working to have regulations reformed around the world, is about social justice; and access to healthcare. I think that prohibition is one of the great harms that humans have done to each other that we’re really going to regret in the future, and the cannabis plant has been used as a tool of oppression. It has disproportionately targeted marginalized people, and now we have the capacity with the resources being created through this industry to do tremendous meaningful good.
That we always need to put patients first, and to prioritize patients and meeting patient needs in our planning; that patients and fighting for their rights was the crowbar that let us start taking down the structure of prohibition and it’s going to be the same around the world. While we can amplify their stories and use advocacy for them in a way that is to our advantage, we always need to remember that we have a tremendous responsibility to protect and provide for them.
The thing that I think is really important to remember is that diversity and inclusion is not just about gender equity, it’s about working towards gender balance, but it’s also about people of colour, it’s also about people of different sexual orientation, and it’s about having a culture that has room to take care of somebody who’s transgendered. The cannabis industry as a whole has a lot of work to do around being diverse and inclusive. Balance for Better sums it up pretty nicely.
I would say that I feel extremely empowered and supported as a woman in the cannabis industry, in that my company is choosing to level me up, give me resources, and I also feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to mentor other women, to show the world that this industry does not have a grass ceiling.
As we tear down prohibition around the world, we are getting people out of cages, we are going to make it so that people aren’t having their children taken away from them. So from a social justice perspective, working towards dissolving prohibition is a very meaningful thing to do in the world, and now we are creating a global industry; other countries around the world are going to want to be a part of this for economic reasons, and they’re going to start changing their regulations which is going to have massive impact on social justice issues.
There are a lot of people in Canada who very much take it for granted. People have short-term memory loss, and they don’t know our roots and our history, right? People don’t even know what it was like 10 years ago and know what the path was that got us here. What are all of the court cases that happened? What’s the pathway that dragged us towards having a legal-regulated framework? We do take it for granted.
One step at a time, one country at a time.