When Tiffany Wu first entered the cannabis industry in March, she noticed that Asian Americans involved in the industry were few and far between — a trend the 28-year-old says was made even more apparent after she attended the Marijuana Business Conference and Expo, one of the nation’s largest cannabis trade shows attracting thousands of advocates and industry professionals, in Las Vegas in November.
“I personally saw maybe less than 15 Asian Americans during my three days there,” Wu, a San Francisco Bay Area business attorney specializing in the cannabis industry, told NBC News.
A quick Google search of the word “cannabis” juxtaposed with “Asian American” will also attest to this fact, explained Wu, a graduate of Harvard Law School as well as a member of the Cannabis Bar Association and the Bay Area chapter of Women Grow. But Wu says she’s ready for the conversation around cannabis in the Asian-American community to change.
Earlier this year, Wu and two friends, photographer Ophelia Chong and startup creative director Monica Lo, co-founded a new group to help do just that: Asian Americans for Cannabis Education (AACE) aims to expand marijuana dialogue among Asian Americans, who Wu says are consumers of marijuana but are less likely to be transparent about their use or join the industry. It is one of the first-of-its-kind groups with that goal.
“Part of what we want to do with Asian Americans for Cannabis Education is to open the discussion and let them know that even though we support legalization, we want to be a neutral conduit,” Wu said.
According to a recent study by the Public Policy Institute of California, while 53 percent of California residents are for the legalization of marijuana, Asian Americans polled at 39 percent—the lowest of all identified ethnic groups.