Letters to Mary Jane, by Kevin Ford, Jr
During Black History Month, influential voices in the Black Community will express their gratitude for Marijuana and how the plant is improving their lives. We hope you enjoy the "Letters to Mary Jane" series, curated by Caliva guest editor Lyneisha Watson.
Letters to Mary Jane
By Kevin Ford Jr
As much as I love you, I hate you!
Truthfully, it's not you that I hate. It's the look of disgust people show when they smell you on me. It’s the trauma of “the boys” pulling up and hopping out on us when they smelled your sweet aroma. Maybe it's how embarrassed I was to interact with my folks after smoking you, or how I stopped trusting people when I kept getting arrested for riding with you. I hated this feeling!
Although I haven't had any encounters recently, so many Black Americans are still locked up for serving you as a means to survive, when the same boys locking us up are making money hand over fist and taking over corners everywhere. As I work day and night to capture your light, the darkness of injustice looms everywhere. No matter the circumstance, no one should be vilified for loving or using you.
When my legal trouble subsided, I was happy, yet I felt guilt. At this point, I realized my privilege. I knew there were others in there, trapped in a system specifically engineered for us — targeting us for a different type of death. At the time, I wondered how my experience with you would be if I wasn't Black, but today, I'm more proud than ever.
You've shown me light, life and love. It was in those dark moments that I discovered how faithful you are to those who dedicate their life to you. I will continue to profess my love for you. You've guided me into manhood, provided scholarship, challenged my perseverance, and now provided me with Uplift. I will hold it dear and continue to lift as I climb.
I will always serve you. Thank you Mary Jane!
K. Ford, Jr.
About Kevin Ford, Jr
CEO of Uplift, Kevin Ford, Jr., is a native to Prince George's County (MD) and a graduate of Morehouse College, where he received a B.A. in Business Administration -- Marketing. Throughout college, Kevin took a keen interest in California and Colorado's medical markets. After moving home to Prince George's County, he watched the start of the medical cannabis industry in D.C. in hopes that he'd have an opportunity to mix his entrepreneurial spirit with cannabis in a legal, medical market in Maryland. Simultaneously, Kevin worked for Prince George's County Government Office of Central Services, where he oversaw the procurement of the diversity and development divisions. Being a medical patient himself, Kevin saw a need in Maryland's market for a trusted source of information for navigating all segments of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. At this point, he created Uplift Maryland, a one-stop-shop for navigating the state's medical cannabis program.
His passion stems from wanting to take what the generation before him has created and elevate it to the next level. Kevin has taken something that was once illegal and incarcerated many Black men before him and turned it into a positive by providing an education and opportunity, especially to those who have been oppressed by unjust drug policies.
Kevin also serves on The National Cannabis Industry Association's (NCIA) State Regulations Committee (SRC).