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Of all the numerous forces which driving mass incarceration and the war on drugs, perhaps none is more insidious than the formalization of institutionalized, hierarchical oppression, largely based on race and income, within our society. This oppression is so pervasive in our society that scarcely any community, school, workplace, neighborhood, family, or household goes unimpacted by it. This is particularly true for people of color, the primary subjects of oppression under this formalized system of inequality. Near the end of a previous system of oppression (slavery) and throughout the next (segregation), Historically Black Colleges and Universities were established as centers of learning accessible to black Americans.  

Kevin Cranford Jr. – Baltimore, MD

kevin-cranfordAs a cannabis activist, Kevin previously as the Deputy Director and Communications Director for Maryland NORML where he led and organized pro-cannabis events/rallies, testified before the Maryland House of Delegates and engaged with allies and organizations across the political spectrum to advance cannabis policy reforms in Maryland and beyond. During his time as the Deputy Director, Maryland NORML was chosen as the NORML Chapter of the year (2015). His most widely-known individual successes with NORML were the creation of the #GoGreen2015 social media campaign and the 2016 East Coast Unity Cypher torch relay. Beyond his involvement with Maryland NORML, he has also served as the Communications Director for the Minority Cannabis Business Association. Kevin has made a concerted effort to connect the people of color within the cannabis community. That effort led to the formation of the People of Color Cannabis Action Network, a forum of 400 cannabis activists, industry professionals, and consumers of color to discuss concerns and issues facing people of color in this budding industry. He holds a Master’s Degree in Media Management from Morgan State University and makes a living as a television production professional.  

James “Jimmy”Lane – Murfreesboro, TN

Version 3Jimmy has long been a vocal advocate of social change. In recent years he has transformed his passion for advocacy into activism and action. Most recently, Jimmy has sought to effect change through his Your Vote Matters Voter Registration Initiative He has also been very active as a contributing member of the Nashville NORML chapter, and as a mentor for underprivileged youth in the Rutherford County School Systems. Jimmy started to expand his efforts as an activist to focus more on criminal justice reform  and drug policy reform. After learning about SSDP, he reached out to SSDP to express his firm commitment to expanding the diversity of perspectives and experiences within SSDP network. Jimy has a strong desire to do this by helping establish more SSDP chapters on Historically Black College and University (HBCU) campuses. Jimmy is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta GA.  

Shanita Penny – Denver, CO

gsc171-1Shanita Penny M.B.A. is an internationally recognized management consultant with over a decade of experience helping companies solve complex issues and improve business performance. As a certified Project Management Professional and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, Shanita brings a much-needed skill set to the cannabis industry. In 2015, Shanita founded Budding Solutions, LLC, a boutique cannabis consulting firm. Budding Solutions’ mission is to change the perception of cannabis through the creation and management of compliant, successful businesses. Combining a passion for her work and a cause she truly believes in has been a dream come true for this budding cannabis entrepreneur. Shanita is a proud alumna of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, the University of Baltimore, and Towson University.  

Jacob Plowden – New York, NY

jacob-plowden-headshotJacob is an alumnus of SSDP, originally recruited by chapter President Leland Radovanovic after volunteering at the NYC SSDP Soiree’ in 2015. He’s a graduate of CUNY Baruch College with his degree in Corporate Communications. Jacob is also a co-founder of Cannabis Cultural Association (CCA), a non-profit organization based in New York City dedicated to bringing diversity to the industry whilst educating communities who have been misinformed by the War on Drugs. Skilled in emotional and cultural intelligence, he sees cannabis/hemp as “the great unifier” with the power to bring communities closer together, when utilized properly. Jacob hopes to unite different cultural demographics and provide awareness about the multifaceted purposes of cannabis and hemp.  

Kamani Jefferson – New York, NY

kamani-head-shotKamani is  New York-bred co-founder of the Cannabis Cultural Association, Kamani strives to involve underrepresented communities in the legal cannabis/hemp industry, by providing informational workshops, cultural programs, and community events. After graduating with a degree from Binghamton University, he obtained start-up development experience at NYU Varick St. Incubator, TripAdvisor, and WeWork. When he’s not fighting for ending prohibition, he’s one of the sales directors at CannaMarkUSA, an FDA-approved direct-on-edible warning symbol. The Students for Sensible Drug Policy HBCU working group is coordinated by Outreach Coordinator Scott Cecil. If you are interested in participating in this working group, please contact him at