In July, medical cannabis provider Revolution Enterprises appointed LGBTQ+ activist Candace Gingrich as Vice President of Business Relations for the company's Florida operation. Gingrich, who worked at the Human Rights Campaign for over two decades until this year, is married to Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy and is also the half-sibling of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
"I left the Human Rights Campaign in March, and I was quite happy being a house spouse," said Gingrich. What caught their eye about Revolution, however, is the company's dedication to the social equity aspect of the cannabis industry. "What I saw in [Revolution] was that this wasn't a bottom line, 'how much money can we make,' kind of company. Revolution is very much about giving back [and] making sure that people that have historically not been given opportunities [are] involved, whether as employees or advocates."
Revolution, founded in 2014, is a vertically integrated company. "[Revolution is involved in] everything from the grow site, where the plants are born and raised, to processing, where we take the plants and turn it into various products, to operating dispensaries," said Gingrich. The company is based in Illinois, but as marijuana is becoming legal in more places, they've expanded to states all over the country. "We're active in Arkansas [and] we've got license applications pending in other locations," said Gingrich. "As a company, Revolution is growing." Gingrich will be working in Revolution's newest market, Florida.
The parallels between the fight for legalization and the LGBTQ+ movement also drew Gingrich to the medical cannabis industry. "One of the biggest roadblocks that any legalization effort faces, whether it's medical or rec, is ignorance. People that, when they hear the words 'cannabis' or 'marijuana,' think about reefer madness, about the stoners that they went to high school with," said Gingrich. "That [connection] really intrigued me. A lot of the things that have been helpful in the queer movement, are applicable here."
Revolution is unique in its centering of LGBTQ+ people, according to Gingrich. "We know the war on drugs has failed, we know that Black and Brown people have been targeted by this war on drugs," they said. "While it's incumbent upon us to continue involving and finding ways to lift up those voices and those people, I think that we have [not] seen LGBTQ people centered when we talk about social justice and social equity in the cannabis movement."
"One of our goals is to create a couple of dispensaries that are not just LGBTQ friendly, but LGBTQ-focused and queer forward," said Gingrich. "Staffed by queer people, created and designed in a way to ensure that people feel comfortable, know they're welcome and can see themselves in our dispensaries. That's exciting because I'm not sure that there are many places ( if any ) where that's been a focus for a cannabis company, and it's going to be one of ours in Florida."
"I'm excited about the opportunity to work in Florida side by side with LGBTQ activsts, with people of color, with veterans, to advance the idea and the truth that marijuana is medicine," said Gingrich. "[I'm excited] to help remove the stigma that is still associated with being a medical cannabis user, to work with healthcare providers to ensure that they are culturally competent [enough] to work with queer patients, and also to engage those [marginalized] communities as we build our grow site [and] as we look to begin opening the first of our 35 dispensaries."
The idea of "queer forward" dispensaries is something that Gingrich said they see for Revolution Enterprises in other locations moving forward as well. "As Revolution expands around the country, the model that we're building in Florida with regard to working with the queer community [and] bringing in historically marginalized communities, that's the kind of thing that we [want] to replicate in those other states," they said. "This is a chance, as a company, to do good, as well as do good business."