Join Informed Texas for “Racial Disparity and Social Justice in Texas”, a timely examination of the intersection of cannabis and race. Our esteemed presenters will cover:
00:00:00 - Cannabis 101 - Dr Olga Obie
00:21:40 - Panel: Medicine, Science and Research
01:11:18 - Texas Patient Study: What Can We Learn? - Viridiana Edwards
01:13:07 - Racial Disparity in Policing for Cannabis Possession - Carlos Caro and Vanessa Akins
01:35:17 - Social Equity: How Can We Do Better? - Christine De La Rosa and Kelly Perez
02:05:20 - Panel: Examining Racial Disparity and Social Justice in Texas
02:57:49 - Expunction Workshop - Kyle Hoelscher
|Racial Disparity in Policing Resource PDF (0.12 MB)||Available after Purchase|
|Racial Disparity in Policing Slide Deck (0.07 MB)||Available after Purchase|
Ogadinma ‘Dr. Olga’ Obie is a native Texan, born and raised in Houston. Her path to medicine began at the University of Houston, where she earned a cum laude degree in Biochemical and Biophysical Sciences and a minor in chemistry. She went on to earn her medical doctorate from the University of Texas Medical Branch where she was a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, eventually graduating with honors in burns research. She completed an emergency medicine residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she presided as chief resident. Today she practices as a board-certified emergency physician in ERs throughout Texas, California and Louisiana. She practices as a board-eligible lifestyle medicine physician where she offers patients in-home concierge services. Finally, she is one of less than 100 state-approved Texas Compassionate Use Program physicians who can register qualified Texas patients to receive legal medical marijuana recommendations.
Dr. Olga began a path to naturopathy, the study and practice of natural medicine, after exploring native medicine in Central America, South America and parts of Africa. As a naturopath, she gravitates toward herbalism, incorporating healing herbs into traditional Western medicine protocols. Medical cannabis plays a pivotal role in her recommendations for treatment of almost every ailment and especially for preventive care. Currently, Dr. Olga serves as medical director for Refine Pharmaceuticals, a hemp-based natural supplements company located in Houston, Texas. As medical director, Dr. Olga helps with developing medical-grade hemp/CBD formulations as well as evidence-based educational workshops for the community. She also acts as medical director for James Henry, a lifestyle marijuana brand located in Bay Area, California.
Dr. Olga enjoys patient advocacy and helping patients develop their “health confidence”. Dr. Olga is a former medical board member of the Americans for Safe Access (ASA), an organization that actively works to change national and international cannabis policy. She currently serves on the medical board for the Texans for Safe Access, a state chapter of the ASA. She travels with marijuana policy advocate groups like Justice Grown, a medical cannabis corporation focused on repairing the many injustices caused by historical cannabis prohibition. Every year Dr. Olga offers free cannabis care nationwide to underserved patients with debilitating and end stage medical conditions. Through her voluntarism she oftentimes travels to doctor’s appointments with her patients to ensure that recommendations are easily incorporated into their medical management. In this way Dr. Olga is also able to simultaneously introduce cannabis care to medical professionals who otherwise do not know much about the medical benefits of cannabis. Along with concierge consultations, Dr. Olga also provides full-length personalized cannabis protocols to each client free of charge.
Today, as Texas’ cannabis laws slowly expand, Dr. Olga provides healing, cannabis-based expertise to Houston area patients. As mentioned, she is currently a Texas Compassionate Use Program-approved physician where she is available for in-home concierge consultations for Houston-area clients and by teleconference for out-of-county patients. More information on what Dr. Olga has to offer can be found on her social media pages as well as by visiting Refine Pharmaceuticals, a hemp/CBD storefront coming soon to Houston, Texas in Summer 2020.
The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) is pleased to highlight alumnus Elias Jackson, Jr, PhD. Dr. Jackson received his bachelor’s degree in biology from The University of Texas at San Antonio and earned his doctoral degree in 2005 at UTMB in cell biology under the mentorship of Dr. Sankar Mitra. Dr. Jackson then completed his postdoctoral training at the Yale University School of Medicine Cardiovascular Disease Research Institute.
Following his post-doctoral training, Dr. Jackson was appointed as a research faculty member in the Yale School of Medicine Cardiovascular Research Institute. Four years later, he accepted the position of assistant professor of physiology at The American University of Antigua School of Medicine. Dr. Jackson’s research background is extensive and varied, and includes the development of new drug formulations, studying the effects of microgravity on the trans-localization of cellular proteins to the nucleus, and the effects of ionizing radiation on human DNA. He has also worked with ILEX Oncology, helping to develop drugs to fight cancer. He has multiple peer-reviewed publications in the areas of diabetes, DNA damage and repair, pharmacology, cellular biology, molecular biology and cardiovascular disease.
Currently, Dr. Jackson is the Co-Founder and Director of Translational Medicine for Vyripharm Biopharmaceuticals, located at The Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute in Houston. Vyripharm is a Precision Medicine Biopharmaceutical firm which develops drug delivery systems and diagnostic platforms for neurologic disorders and cancer. “The future of graduate education rests within creating pathways for our young scientists to gain an integrated experience in biopharma and medical technology research and development,” says Dr. Jackson. He has assisted in concepts and contributions to several inventions and patents in Vyripharm. Dr. Jackson’s company was issued the first-ever patent for comprehensive cannabinoid testing from agriculture to clinical applications. This patent is considered ground-breaking because there is currently no comprehensive analytical approach to assure public safety with respect to medical cannabinoids and medical cannabinoid based products. Dr. Jackson believes that we are on the cusp of dynamic change in natural science research.
Rita J. McGuire, MD, affectionately known as Dr. Rita, is a globally recognized OB/GYN with over eight thousand deliveries throughout a 30 year career within the United States, Virgin Islands and Caribbean. She is a well-established medical professional serving as Medical Director and Attending Physician for prominent academic and community hospitals throughout the Midwest and Caribbean, providing effective patient care and innovative training techniques to medical students.
A compassionate and people-oriented motivational speaker, Holistic Health, Wellness & Fitness Expert,Dr. Rita used her gifts to educate and empower women to pursue and maintain healthy lifestyles through proper nutrition, physical fitness and natural alternative medicine in South Africa, Mexico, Bahamas and across the United States.
Dr. Rita, a four-time medical cannabis radio show spotlight guest (WVON Chicago and Bermuda Radio) is a strong and dedicated advocate for the education and legalization of medical cannabis. Her pursuit of holistic and alternative medicine led her to become Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of the only African American owned Hemp company in Illinois and as a certifying Medical Marijuana physician, where she has presented educational information to medical professional and the general public on the use of cannabis for various health issues: Glaucoma, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Cancer.
Dr. Rita’s passion, drive and dedication is evident in her extensive research and application of knowledge throughout her medical and wellness practices.
Founder of Austin Justice Coalition, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and grassroots, activist-led organization aimed at demanding criminal justice reform and building community at the local, state, and national levels.
His key passions include:
criminal justice reform
creating spaces for activists, leaders, and organizers of color to lead
implementing progressive and “best-practice” policies in local entities
community empowerment through community service and education
educating youth of color about a more inclusive history of their cultures
organizing and challenging community members to get civically engaged
speaking to high-school and college students about the value and importance of their voices in creating a “better tomorrow.”
Before devoting his work full-time to the creation and growth of Austin Justice Coalition, Chas served as a student activist fighting many social issues at The University of Texas at Austin and in the broader Austin Community.
An advocate for the underserved, Chas champions efforts that deliberately meet community needs like back-to-school drives, fundraisers for those who have been brutalized by police, feeding the hungry, and pioneering programs for black youth, men and women.
In addition to organizing and being an agent for change, Chas enjoys good food and a good, old-fashioned book to read. A proven foodie and streetwise academic, on any given day one may find Chas patronizing the best spots to eat in Austin while reading memoirs of those who are impacting change.
Viridiana is a born and raised El Paso Texas native. At the age of 17 she joined the U.S. Army and left for South Carolina for basic training. A few years later in 2009, she received orders to deploy to Kandahar, Afghanistan. In June of 2015, Viridiana received a medical retirement from the U.S. Army after 10 years of service due to injuries that were sustained while serving in Afghanistan from 2009-2010.
Viridiana sought treatment for her injuries with Department of Veterans Affairs. Unfortunately, she was prescribed pharmaceutical medications that ended up harming her instead of helping her. Her curiosity led her to find more veterans that were also being harmed by treatment. As a result, she developed a national study on why U.S. veterans were electing to treat their maladies with cannabis in lieu of, or in conjunction with pharmaceutical medication. In 2019 her thesis study titled “The Battle Off the Battlefield: Exploring Medical Cannabis Use Among US Veterans Looking for Relief”, was published with The University of Texas at El Paso as part of her M.A. in Sociology. That same year Viridiana was accepted into the first class, in the nation’s first, Master of Science in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She expects to graduate in May 2021.
Given Texas’ cannabis laws, Edwards was curious why over 70% of her thesis study responses came from Texas veterans. On August 17, 2020, along with Foundation for an Informed Texas, Edwards designed and launched a Texas wide study on medical cannabis use which received over 3,000 responses from veterans, civilians, and individuals who left Texas for another state which has a less restrictive medical cannabis program. This data will be shared with Texas legislators for the 2021 Texas 87th Legislative Session in support of the bills which are requesting an expansion to the Texas Compassionate Use Program. Because of her study, Edwards was contacted by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy to join their ranks as a non-resident scholar for Drug Policy.
In November 2019 she founded CannaVi Hemp, a CBD Hemp product line with personally formulated products. Viridiana also sits on various boards including Foundation for an Informed Texas, Texas NORML, and Veterans Action Council.
Tamar Bibbs, known to many as the “Emerald Hempress”, is the CEO of IV20 Houston Consulting, LLC and Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Green Life Consulting, LLC. Mrs. Bibbs has 18 years combined experience in compliance, agriculture, cannabis science, medical marijuana specialist, forensic sciences, law enforcement, risk management, training and career development, and social services. Her focus is educating and supporting minorities regarding farming, health, social justice, and wealth opportunities in the Legal Cannabis and Hemp industry.
Cannabis Science has brought Anita Sommers M(ASCP) a new sense of awareness, mission, and name CBD Genie. Her career, education, and unfortunate medical history has set the stage to educate the Endocannabinoid System and therapeutic compounds found in nature in a fun, memorable, comprehensive way. Her love and passion for both cannabis and science have finally come together in the state of Texas, and she is honored to be a part of history and educating the facts.
Pending 501c3 nonprofit: Veterans for Smart Farming, with a mission to educate smart, organic, sustainable practices while giving back to the farm to table community and bringing ourselves and Mother Earth to balance.
Carlos Caro has professionally worked in education for over ten years. His passion for conveying knowledge made him a natural addition to FIT considering the group’s mission to educate and raise awareness about cannabis to Texans across the state. Carlos’ interest in cannabis reform extends from his graduate work critiquing the federal prohibition of marijuana. In his studies he came to discover that the impetus for creating and maintaining prohibition had nothing to do with the plant itself, but rather, a myriad of issues that have led to over eighty years of social misery in the name of government control. Carlos is a Founding Director for our organization.
Christine, a South Texas native, spent 20 years as a systems and database architect in tech before coming to cannabis. She is a social entrepreneur who has spent most of her adult life building businesses that creatively engage and employ the local communities that surround them. A history in technology, business consulting and entrepreneurship were part of the trajectory that led to co-owning cannabis businesses in both California and Oregon. She is a well-respected business leader, advocate and activist.
She leads operations and strategic direction with responsibility for bottom-line factors, including long range planning, product management and retail development. She provides cross-functional management of COO. CFO, CMO and general oversight of employees. She directs all operations and infrastructure systems for TPD's current and future cannabis retail stores.
Christine is passionate about the industry that saved her life. At the top of her tech career, she almost died from complications of undiagnosed Lupus. In 2015, she found cannabis as an alternative medicine to treat her lupus. No longer bound to 11 pills a day or monthly infusions, she was inspired by her experience to open Benefit Health Collective in 2016, along with her co-founders to help those who most need access to cannabis. Together they continue to grow their multi-state dispensary footprint and build a fiercely sought after national social equity model and enterprise now known as The People’s Dispensary.
She is currently the CEO and National Co-Founder of The People's Dispensary, The People’s Holdings and Founding Partner of CBxShield She is an advisory board member of the Access + Innovation Project, Regennabis and Cannabis Doing Good. Additionally, she is a member of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Committee for NCIA (National Cannabis Industry Association) and Subcommittee Chair of the Integration Committee.
Kyle Hoelscher was born and raised in Corpus Christi. He graduated with honors from A&M Corpus in 2006 and received his law degree from St. Mary's University in 2010. He now runs his own solo criminal defense firm and lobbies for smart on crimes issues. In 2013, he founded NORML – Corpus Christi to give a voice to the cannabis legalization movement in the coastal bend of Texas. He has served on the board of directors of Corpus Christi Bar Association, Coastal Bend Criminal Defense Lawyer Association, and Grow Local South Texas, an organization that helps build local food networks. He is part of the makers movement and is a proficient woodworker in his spare time.
Vanessa Akins is the Legislative Bill Tracker for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, having joined the organization as a Policy Associate in September 2020. In her previous role, she provided data-driven policy recommendations and research on juvenile probation reform and Substance Abuse Felony Punishment (SAFP) facilities as part of TCJC’s Spend Your Values, Cut Your Losses portfolio. While finishing her graduate studies at Texas State University, Vanessa joined Texas NORML as a Research Intern focusing on marijuana possession arrests. After working in education and corporate communications, Vanessa followed her passion for advocacy to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP). As Communications Coordinator, she gained a deeper understanding of the inherent flaws of our justice system and its arbitrary use of the death penalty. Vanessa graduated from St. Edward’s University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. In December 2020, Vanessa graduated with a Master of Arts in Legal Studies from Texas State University.
Lori O. Lord
CO-FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FULLY INTEGRATED
OWNER, NATURAL HIGH COMPANY | a high lifestyle & wellness shop
Lori is an entrepreneur, business solutions consultant, and brand advocate with over 15 years of experience in the marketing industry. As a professional, her niche areas of focus include lifestyle, entertainment, sports, consumer retail, and non-profit clients. This valued experience has allowed her to seamlessly transition into the cannabis space over the last few years and has led her to not only the business of cannabis but more importantly the advocacy that goes with it. Because of this, she works daily to connect the dots, create space, and more opportunities for minorities, as well as women looking to break ground in an industry that is in dire need of increased diversity.
In 2019, alongside cannabis aficionado Bryant Mitchell [of Blaqstar Farms], Lori co-founded FULLY INTEGRATED which is an educational platform and live learning experience dedicated to bridging the gap and ensuring minorities + people of color are equipped with the knowledge needed to be successful in the cannabis business. Fully Integrated is a rapidly growing national platform with the goal of truly impacting and being change agents in the cannabis industry.
Lori received her Master’s Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Sports Management at Houston Baptist University (2009) and is also a graduate of The University of Oklahoma (and proud SOONER!), earning a dual BBA in Management and Marketing with Advertising (2006).
She is a native of Houston, TX, where she currently resides with her husband and 3-year old son. Keep up with Lori on social media @lonair or connect with her on LinkedIn.
Nkem is an experienced entrepreneur with a proven track record of creating and selling successful start-ups. She is co-founder of Adendox, LLC and MediTaurus LLC, co-creator of Florance, and serves as Senior Vice President at Marimed Hemp, Inc. Nkem works on a broad range of business, operational, fund raising, marketing, product development, transactional, and legal issues, and is passionate about building businesses and creating strategic partnerships world-wide.
Nkem previously co-founded/co-owned and then sold her 50% stake in Inkfree, MD, Houston's premier medical aesthetic laser clinic. Her past experiences in Washington, D.C., includes working as a Senior Business Manager in the Law and Policy Division at Fannie Mae. She also worked as a corporate transactional attorney at the law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernard, McPherson and Hand (now DLA Piper). Nkem is admitted in the State Bar of Texas and the District of Columbia Bar and is certified in mediation, negotiation, and project management, and has experience with transactional projects involving various contracts, leases, and joint ventures.
Nkem graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science from Georgia State University. She also earned an M.B.A. degree with honors and graduated from Tulane Law School. During her undergraduate studies, she was awarded a full athletic scholarship for the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Team and elected Captain and Most Valuable Player. While in law school, Nkem was a semi-finalist in an international law Moot Court competition, an editorial assistant to the World Arbitration and Mediation Report and served in the Appellate Advocacy Clinic.
Jax Finkel is Executive Director for Foundation for an Informed Texas. After a decade of involvement in marijuana law reform, she founded this 501c3 nonprofit which focuses on rural education. In her tenure, Jax has given hundreds of interviews and participated in many panel discussions and speaking engagements. Foundation for an Informed Texas produced the first medical cannabis ad, which played in rural areas on Fox News and MSNBC. She created curriculum, helped organize and execute regional workshops from 2015 to present. She believes in freely sharing information and facilitating organizational growth.
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