People to know in NY cannabis: Dr. Torian Easterling

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Dr. Torian Easterling is co-founder of Black Star Wellness, which is seeking a medical cannabis license in New York State. Easterling answered eight simple questions for NY Cannabis Insider’s ‘People to know’ series.

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What is your position and what do you/your company do in the cannabis space?

I am the co-founder for Black Star Wellness, a Black-owned and woman-owned cannabis company seeking a medical cannabis license in the State of New York.

Our team has extensive experience in bringing equitable approaches to programming and policies in government and labor roles and seeks to bring a justice lens to the medical cannabis market by ensuring access to medical cannabis for communities disproportionately impacted by War on Drug policies.

How long have you worked in the cannabis space?

I am new to this space. However, I am not new to alternative and natural medicine – my mother is a trained herbalist and spent most of my formative years advising and selling natural herbs and minerals to treat various ailments. There is a reclamation that is underway for communities and families of color, who have been oppressed and dehumanized for seeking different modalities of healing. For me, this is a full circle moment.

What did you do before you were involved in the cannabis industry?

I have spent the last 15 years in healthcare and public health roles working to provide access for equitable care and improving health for communities that have been disproportionately impacted by structural racism. I currently serve as the Senior Vice President for Population and Community Health at a safety net system in Central Brooklyn, working to strengthen the system’s mission to address health inequities and improve community health.

What led you to the cannabis industry?

I saw an opportunity to help tell a different story and create opportunities for those who have been severely impacted by the War on Drug policies, collaborate with others to create a paradigm shift of what good health means, and ultimately achieve a better state of health and wellness.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to get into the NY weed industry?

My advice is to come into this space with an openness – understanding that there is so much more to this industry than packaging and distribution. My hope is that we will not only see diversity in the workforce but also diversity in other sectors – philanthropy, research, journalism – who feel free to fully engage in this industry.

What do you think the NY cannabis ecosystem will look like in five years?

Five years will happen in the blink of an eye, but what I hope will happen in five years is a real reparative approach to all people, loved ones and communities who have been harmed by the War on Drug policies.

The cannabis ecosystem is part of a larger public health ecosystem that must start with redressing the harms that have been committed if we want people to access and engage in the medical cannabis industry.

Do you use cannabis? If so, what’s your favorite method and why?

I have used flower and edibles, but I still need to explore tinctures. I have no favorites right now.

Who should contact you, and what’s the best method?

The best method is social media. You can find me on IG or X- @DrTorian

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