Robinson and Okoro co-founded the nonprofit Minority Cannabis Academy to try to infuse the state’s market with that sort of representation. Their long-term goal is to churn out a diverse labor force for the growing New Jersey cannabis market by providing free training to minorities and the disenfranchised communities most impacted by the War on Drugs.
Okoro wanted to get involved in the cannabis sector as soon as Gov. Phil Murphy’s 2017 election win, but it wasn’t until Robinson lost his job at a bank as a result of COVID-19 cutbacks three years later that the pair actually launched a company together, called 420 NJ Events.
Through their work with the digital media platform, which Robinson refers to as a “cannabis lifestyle brand,” they attended a media gig held by cannabis education and consultation company Leafy Green Agency. After hearing about how people were able to secure a costly cannabis business license and start profiting off a soon-blooming industry, they left feeling dejected.
“We were in the car after listening to this, just frustrated and wondering how Black and brown folks are actually going to be a part of all that and get access to this industry,” he said. “We’re not the type to talk about problems without solutions. So, that day in the car, this organization got formed.”