While the cannabis industry is no doubt on an upward trajectory, issues still persist within. Two of these prevalent problems are sustainability and diversity. Market Watch reported that cannabusiness’ electricity usage will increase by 162 percent by 2020, with carbon emissions and packaging waste posing additional problems. Diversity within the workplace has also been a concern, with MJBizDaily reporting in 2017 that only 17 percent of executive positions in cannabis-related businesses are held by minorities. Challenging these two issues is just part of Tara Jane Forrest’s mission.
Founder of the luxury vaporizer company Sensi Vapes, Tara Jane Forrest is focused on diversity and sustainability. That dedication has been getting attention in the industry, as evidenced by her exclusive features on the website New CBD Hemp Oil and the publication High Times. In our discussion, Forrest described her inspiring introduction to the world of CBD, why environmentalism is a cornerstone of her business, and how she would improve the business landscape surrounding cannabis.
Cannabis & Tech Today: What was the inspiration for Sensi Vapes?
Tara Jane Forrest: In 2017, me and my business acquaintance, we started the idea of forming a processing facility in Kingston, Jamaica, which is where we’re both originally from, because Jamaica was on the verge of legalizing cannabis for medicinal use and we already had a license through the Ethiopian community. That’s where our passion for cannabis started.
In that same year, I had a really bad accident. It was a hit-and-run. I was walking through a plaza and somebody hit me with their car and drove off, and it essentially broke my back. That happened in Atlanta, Georgia and a part of the treatment was to take oxycodone, you know, hydrocodone. And I really didn’t want to have to do that for pain management because, I’ve heard about the addiction problems and how it wreaks havoc on your body.
So, I decided I was going to vape CBD because it’s the fastest way to ingest into your blood-stream. It’s the most effective, so far as it’s been proven. So I ordered up a whole bunch of vape pens in preparation for recovery, and all of them seemed very subpar. They didn’t meet expectations, either from what was advertised or the quality. And that’s really where the idea of Sensi Luxury’s first product line being vaporizers came about.
C&T Today: How does Sensi Vapes approach sustainability?
Tara Jane Forrest: So one thing that we did is, we made the accessories that come with the pen reusable. To go into the future of what we’re trying to do, even for our packaging, it’s recycled materials. What I have noticed is in the market, there are a lot of disposable vape pens, and when individuals dispose of their vape pens right now – you already know there’s a pollution problem, not just in the U.S. but globally – you’re talking about lithium batteries that are just being disposed of every day.
So we wanted to make sure that we built a product that would last at least six months to a year. Then what we ask is that if they want, they can send it back to us for us to properly recycle, and we’ll send a return vehicle to them, and send them a new vape pen or new accessory at no additional cost.
C&T Today: What inspired this sustainable mission?
Tara Jane Forrest: It’s more so from my personal life. I came from a very small island in Jamaica where pollution is a problem, so it’s not something that you could easily avoid. From then on I’ve always been big on recycling plastics, and batteries have always been a huge issue of recycling in Jamaica and it’s a hazard to the environment.
So considering that all our devices have lithium batteries, I want to ensure we’re doing our part as a new company and, to me, for the cannabis industry, it needs to start from seed to sale. From cultivation and processing to packaging to which devices we’re selling to consumers to use. It needs to be embedded into that process.
C&T Today: If you could fix one issue within the cannabis industry, what would it be?
Tara Jane Forrest: I would say it would be to allow banking for cannabis companies. That would be the biggest thing. And the reason why isn’t just so existing businesses have a way to collaborate and don’t feel the need to remain in the black market. It’s more for other individuals who want to join the community of cannabis companies who may not be able to self-fund. To have women, people of color and minorities joining the cannabis industry, funding needs to be made available, and the only way to do that is by first passing that bill in Congress and changing the banking regulations.
Once that changes, more groups will be invested into research and development and allow the opportunity for more synergy of grass companies and with that comes sustainability and diversity.
As a woman building my own company, the cannabis industry has really been typically white male-dominated. And so, as a non-white female joining the community, we try and do our part and ensure that when we’ve hired on our company and when we’re partnering with other individuals we’re reaching out to all groups, and we’re inclusive of everybody.