WASHINGTON — You could call her the "DC Cannabis Queen." Caroline Phillips, however, sees herself more as DC's cannabis convener. Phillips is the driving force behind an enormous and jam packed week of 420 related events to celebrate, study and share information about the burgeoning cannabis industry in the United States.
"I really wanted to create an event that was affordable for our community, accessible for people but also to educate people," said Phillips. "Not only about the opportunities in the industry but the challenges for us that lie ahead at the federal and state level."
Phillips is blazing a path (pun intended) for others looking to make a mark with entertainment and live events.
"As a Black woman working in live events it was very important for me to carve out a space for myself and other women just like me to have opportunities in this industry," said Phillips. "There are not a lot of Black and brown people in leadership positions with live events."
This year, the sixth annual National Cannabis Festival, which celebrates progress on cannabis legalization, expanded to a full week of cannabis-related events, including the National Cannabis Policy Summit April 22 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
The event includes activists, industry pioneers, government leaders, journalists and more for a day looking at the era’s most pressing cannabis policy challenges and opportunities, according to a printed description.
"How can you have an event in Washington, D.C. that doesn't have strong advocacy vibes?" Phillips asks rhetorically. "First and foremost, we want to celebrate the non-profit groups that have worked so hard to get us to this point with cannabis legalization. After that, we just want to have a great time."
The week of events culminates with the East Coast’s largest ticketed cannabis gathering over April 23 and 24th on the RFK stadium campus with performances from Wiz Khalifa, Lettuce, Ghostface Killah and others.
There will be a wide range of exhibitors, five pavilions on topics from wellness to agriculture to education and a brand-new culinary pavilion. The Munchies Zone will include seventy-five of the region’s most popular food trucks including Peruvian Brothers, Jerk at Nite, Reba’s Funnel Cakes and more. No THC infused foods are permitted to be sold or sampled at NCF and festival-goers must be 21 and up.
"I'm so excited to see the community come out. One of the things that makes the National Cannabis Festival so unique is the wide age range and all the backgrounds of the people who attend the festival. It's such a diverse community and so many good vibes," said Phillips.
Phillips is adamant that people know while the National Cannabis Festival is a fun event, it's not strictly an event where people just show up to freely smoke marijuana.
"In the first few years working on the festival there were a lot of companies and businesses in DC that were hesitant to work with me because of the stigma of cannabis and the cannabis community. The incorrect stigma," said Phillips. "The work we do is important. We help patients. We're helping to build a new industry and we're helping make a new industry more accessible to people who deserve it."
Read more about the National Cannabis Festival HERE.