As a young girl, Lelehnia DuBois moved to northern California with her mother to the heart of the Emerald Triangle. To this day Lelehnia is unsure if her mother, a nurse, brought them there for the wide, and accepted use of cannabis; but this plant would become a constant part of her life.
After a car accident that caused the death of Lelehnia’s sister and her mother to break her back, she started to see the medicinal qualities of cannabis.
After the loss of her mother, Lelehnia later found herself with a spine injury of her own. Later waking up from a short coma, and becoming pregnant with her son years later and needed to come off the western medications she had been prescribed. Lelehnia decided to see if cannabis would work.
GH: What sparked your interest in working with cannabis?
LDB: Survival. It was never a choice, I can’t remember any other kind of life but being involved and apart of the industry. I didn’t understand that until I was quite older. My babysitter had brick weed, pounds of brick weed and my friend and her brother and I would pinch it; you know, go and sneak it. I grew up in a very unique situation, in a very unique community, there was a group of us kids, we were called the OB RATS we just ran around with very little parental supervision because there was a lot going on, with the transportation of drugs, sales, and true community movement. We created the People’s Food Store in Ocean Beach, the women in that community were very strong parts of the women’s movement.
We had eight FBI agents at one time, going through the mail, surveilling us. I have four files sitting on my desk from the FBI of my childhood. So in a sense, I was just born into a situation that made it very much a part of my life.
GH: What are your responsibilities as the First Chair and President of California Voice Humbolt?
LDB: My responsibilities were for connecting with my local cannabis community and encouraging them to come out and use their voice and help mold the CA market.
GH: Can you tell me more about Sensi Magazine and Sensi Media?
LDB: They are a company I have been with for about two years now, and what we do is have community lifestyle magazines that are in cannabis-focused communities. We don’t focus just on cannabis, we’re building the new normal. We pull all parts of the community together through this publication. We also have events, four to seven a year, where we pull all our clients and their clients together. We really use media and marketing as a way to build these cannabis communities.
GH: Could you tell me more about the importance of women’s empowerment groups like Women Empowered in Cannabis Supply Chain?
The Women Empowered in Cannabis Supply Chain is so important because the supply chain in this business has never been built before. It’s the first industry in our lifetime that we have to jump into, there are no building blocks. Women in this industry and women who have a legacy like myself have had the flexibility to maneuver in the normalization and in mainstream culture. We have a lot more information on how to build a business, how to market, how to build relationships. This is also a very strong male-dominated field not just because of the numbers but because of the type of mentality that has built this industry. Finding places where women can come together and be curated and focused on. We don’t allow negatively calling out other women. We speak to issues by solving problems. It’s a way to network without draining your resources.
GH: What has been your greatest career challenge so far?
LDB: Funding and being a woman. Those have been my two greatest challenges. If I were a man, because of how many resources I have, I would be funded by now. If I were a man I would not have had 75% of the challenges I’ve had and I’ve been through.
GH: What upcoming projects are you excited for?
LDB: Bringing the diversity of a community together in conversation and I get to do that a couple of different ways. Right now I’m working on a project where I bring leadership together to talk about hard issues like illegal cannabis, and that’s a really hard issue in our community. Another way I get to do that is that I am a Chair for the Human Community for Humbolt county and a Human Rights Commissioner. We just got reallocated our funds so I’m working on a stakeholders meeting and with my board, I will be able to allocate those funds to foundations that are impacting human trafficking in our community.
GH: What are your business goals for the rest of this year?
LDB: I would really like to see my magazine get to 20,000 on the ground, right now we’re at 10,000. I would also really like to see some programs in my community get started around identifying human trafficking locally. And then, I would like to see my brand, I’ve been building a brand and a beauty line for the past five years and I would like to see that get into full production.