Candace Gingrich says the stigma connected with marijuana requires to be erased. (Photo by Angelika Bermingham courtesy Revolution Enterprises)

Noted LGBTQ leader Candace Gingrich, who spent 23 years functioning for the Human Rights Campaign, has a new gig. The lengthy-time advocate was named vice president and head of enterprise improvement for Revolution Florida, a cannabis operator that is the sister corporation of Illinois-primarily based Revolution Enterprises.

Functioning with the Human Rights Campaign, Gingrich traveled all through the U.S. discussing the value of coming out, mobilizing the subsequent generation of activists and advertising LGBTQ equity, which includes wellness care. Gingrich saw initial-hand the barriers LGBTQ men and women face to health-related therapy, which includes with cannabis.

For that cause, Gingrich — half-sister of Newt, with whom she’s cordial — will also serve as the company’s LGBTQ ambassador. In Gingrich’s function, organization leaders have plans to establish LGBTQ-focused health-related cannabis therapy centers and raise financial possibilities for LGBTQ men and women. 

Gingrich, who is married to Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D) — the lead Home sponsor of a landmark marijuana legalization measure signed into law this summer time, will not be involved in any monetary or voting interest in any Illinois-primarily based enterprise license that may well be issued to Revolution beneath the new law for two years. Also, Gingrich’s enterprise improvement function will only be focused on non-Illinois markets.

Gingrich not too long ago chatted with the Blade about the position and plans for the future.

WASHINGTON BLADE: What produced you interested in this position?

CANDACE GINGRICH: It was a quantity of points. A single was hunting at Revolution as as an entity itself and their reputation as a corporation that not only cares about the bottom line, but cares about the men and women that are involved — truly focusing on social justice, social equity and offering the finest science to make the finest solution for health-related cannabis individuals. Right here is a corporation that is undertaking a lot of points nicely. Plus, I had an chance to type of mesh that with my queer activism, due to the fact in a lot of the conversation, we speak about the failed war on drugs and we speak about the value of bringing black and brown men and women into the market to be aspect of it and to be engaged. But a lot of instances, we weren’t speaking about queer men and women, which has also been a historically marginalized neighborhood. With Florida, it is a purely health-related industry. All of the dispensaries are a health-related cannabis industry. And with HRC, I’ve discovered how normally queer men and women have difficulties interfacing with the wellness care neighborhood and oftentimes they have to function with wellness care providers that are not culturally competent and are not totally conscious of the specific requires of LGBTQ individuals. This was a way to type of combine these two points to be aspect of a corporation that is bringing a initial-class solution to industry for individuals and also acquiring a way so that we can bring LGBTQ men and women into it, as individuals and also as a aspect of the corporation as nicely.

BLADE: You talked about a barrier of health-related therapy becoming understanding requires. Are there other barriers as nicely?

GINGRICH: Effectively, there’s nonetheless stigma in making use of cannabis, even when it is medically referred to as for. I see some parallels to the LGBTQ movement in that there nonetheless remains a lot of ignorance and a lot of misconception and stereotypes about cannabis use that we have to have to type of get beyond and do the educating on. The research show that cannabis is a wellness care solution that can vastly enhance peoples’ lives, but there’s nonetheless these stereotypes of that dude on the corner promoting you a dime bag. We have to have to get beyond the stigma and aid men and women view cannabis as a health-related therapy.

BLADE: As aspect of this function, you are going to aid establish LGBTQ-focused health-related therapy centers. What are your plans there? 

GINGRICH: We’re nonetheless figuring that out. Florida is one particular of our newest markets and we have a vertically integrated license, and we are constructing a terrific center—the spot exactly where the plants will all be grown and then a processing center exactly where they can be processed. And then we have a license for 35 dispensaries all through the state of Florida, undertaking a couple at a time and we will create from there. A single of the tips that we had was why not produce a couple of the dispensaries as LGBTQ-focused and LGBTQ forward. That is to offer not only a welcoming spot for queer men and women to go, but an informing spot. We truly want to bring in queer men and women, we want to bring in men and women of colour, we want to bring in veterans. For the reason that we’re going to have a have to have for employees at the dispensaries, we’re going to have a have to have for men and women to function in the development center, to function in the processing, to do transportation. I see it as not only queer men and women as individuals, but also as a way to offer job possibilities for men and women that often nonetheless face barriers to employment. 

BLADE: What are some of your other individuals principal responsibilities? 

GINGRICH: With each and every spot that we want to place a dispensary, we have regional stakeholders that we have to have to create relationships with and we’re constructing relationships with. There’s nonetheless municipalities that are nonetheless relying on stereotypes and the misconceptions about what it implies to have a health-related dispensary. So aspect of it is having to know them and constructing partnership. It is Revolution functioning with regional government, functioning with the regulators, and creating certain that we are very good corporate partners. I also see constructing relationships with the neighborhood in common. A single of the points that Revolution does in Illinois is truly partners with the neighborhood. There is an MS stroll that we have been a cosponsor of. There was a letter writing work for cancer individuals exactly where the neighborhood came with each other, made care packages for men and women in the neighborhood who have been going by way of cancer. That is the type of factor that drew me to Revolution — it is about undertaking very good enterprise, but it is also about undertaking very good, period. 

BLADE: What’s the future appear like for Revolution?

GINGRICH: Just that Florida is one particular of the newest markets and we’re hunting to expand about the nation. We’ve got a development web site in Arkansas. We are going to be opening a health-related dispensary in Maryland. Seeking at what we’re going to do in Florida more than the subsequent six months to a year, I’m hopeful that the LGBTQ-focused-facing function will aid us produce a template so no matter what state Revolution is in, we’re in a position to engage these communities and replicate it.

BLADE: You have mentioned in other interviews, you and Newt are cordial and do not see each and every other normally. Is that nonetheless how you would characterize your connection?

GINGRICH: We are cordial and we see each and every other from time to time.

BLADE: Is cannabis a Republican vs. Democrat situation?

GINGRICH: It is non-partisan. Two-thirds of Americans now help legalizing cannabis. Any one operating for workplace who ignores a robust majority of their possible constituents by opposing cannabis legalization is not most likely to be profitable. Specially with health-related cannabis, this is about what’s in the finest interests of the public.

BLADE: What else are you excited about in your life? 

GINGRICH: I’m excited to be living in Chicago and becoming right here complete-time with my household. We have a five-month-old enormous puppy named Jack who is ridiculously entertaining. And I’m constantly excited about the Chicago Cubs.