How Nonprofits Navigate the Emerging Legal Marijuana Market

(Image: Dr. Lakisha Jenkins)

As Black Enterprise continues to find different ways and avenues for interested African American entrepreneurs to tap into the emerging marijuana market, we take an inside look at how nonprofits are fighting to navigate the challenges confronting people of color looking to enter this space.

Dr. Lakisha Jenkins owns the California-based Kiona Foundation. She also owns Kiona’s Farm’acy, which has two locations in California: one in Tracy and the other in Oakdale. The foundation is in memory of Kiona T. Jenkins who was diagnosed with a Teratoma and Germinoma brain tumor in 2002. Kiona died in 2006. She was just 12 years old.

Jenkins has a doctorate in Naturopathy. She uses natural health modalities such as natural herbs nutrition, homeopathy, touch therapy and more to combat degenerative, chronic, or even terminal illness. She is also a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild which qualifies her as a master herbalist. She is the president of the board of directors of the California Cannabis Industry Association and serves on the board of the National Cannabis Industry Association. How long have you had the Kiona Foundation?

Dr. Lakisha Jenkins: The Kiona Foundation started in 2003. We originally started out as a cancer foundation but we have since changed our focus within the last six years to be a more all encompassing holistic organization.

You said you changed your focus six years ago. Was that when you included marijuana as part of your holistic therapy?


Are you required to obtain licensing of any nature?

The Kiona foundations are 501 (C) (3) nonprofit organizations. But we also have Kiona’s Farm’acy which is a holistic health center and natural foods co-op shop. In our shops we have about 500 varieties of medicinal culinary spiritual herbs, teas, tea blends. We also have about 300 proprietary herbal blends that I created recipes for myself. Those are in the forms of capsules, tinctures, and salves depending on what ailment we are treating and what application is best for that. We try to make sure our blends cover everything.

Does this include cannabis?

If you have a recommendation for medicinal cannabis in the state of California we do also serve the recommended population.

So you do actual serve raw herb before it is converted into these salves and tinctures you spoke about earlier?

We do. We have bulk herbs available.

Do you need a license to operate in California?

There is no actual licensing procedure as far as the state goes. We have attorney general guidelines. We have a SB 420 that allows us to associate collectively or cooperatively and distribute medicinal grade cannabis between patients and primary care givers. We don’t have actual laws or actual licenses unless your local municipality, city, or county has put some ordinance or licensing procedure in place.

Why do you think more African Americans like yourself are not involved in this business?