As Ayr’s Head of Corporate Responsibility, Khari Edwards Sees Opportunities for All

As Ayr’s Head of Corporate Responsibility, Khari Edwards Sees Opportunities for All
Cannabtimes

<![CDATA[Ayr WellnessEdwardsWith New York and New Jersey making grand entrances in the adult-use cannabis space this year, the team at multistate operator Ayr Wellness wanted to help prepare an equitable workforce for the jobs to come. In March, Khari Edwards, the company’s head of corporate responsibility, led a series of “Changing Legacies” events: expungement clinics for those with cannabis-related convictions lingering on their records.The intent at events like those, he says, is to get out in front of this persistent problem, to confront the weight of past punishment keeping people separated from a sense of freedom.“The reason why we named them ‘Changing Legacies’ is because, if you expunge somebody’s record, you now create an opportunity for these folks to grow,” Edwards says. “You put them in a bigger pot of opportunity.” This is an inherent promise of the emerging cannabis industry, he adds, unique in its attachment to social justice.He describes one man he met at a Changing Legacies clinic, a man who had been convicted of a cannabis-related crime in 1973. For nearly 50 years now, that albatross had dogged him through jobs and housing and family relationships, tamping down his ability to move freely. The sheer scope of time was jarring to Edwards. The expungement process—which itself tends to be rather opaque from one jurisdiction to another—helped lift that burden from his shoulders, Edwards says.While public agencies and legislators are increasingly adding various strands of social equity language into the laws governing state-legal cannabis markets, the work falls even more visibly to private businesses already operating in the space. Past cannabis-related convictions can hold men and women back from participating in the cannabis market itself in many cases. Those who have entered the space through licensing—or simply through being hired—have an opportunity to provide a support system for…

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