Cannabis industry group experiences leadership shake-up as member departs

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Image of Khadijah Tribble
Khadijah Tribble

The U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC), a leading industry trade group, appointed Khadijah Tribble as interim CEO, replacing Steven Hawkins.

Tribble is a top executive at multistate operator Curaleaf Holdings.

The USCC said in a statement that Tribble will continue her role as senior vice president of corporate social responsibility at Massachusetts-based Curaleaf “during her interim term as CEO.”

No time frame has been set for Tribble’s term, but it is intended to be transitional, the USCC said.

It’s not clear why Hawkins – a human rights attorney who served as the USCC’s first CEO from February 2021 until his departure last week – exited the group.

“Unfortunately, I am not in a position to comment at this time,” Hawkins told MJBizDaily via email about his departure.

The USCC also declined to answer why Hawkins was replaced as CEO.

The organization said that Hawkins’ departure preceded but was unrelated to an Aug. 17 letter from the Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM) announcing its resignation from the USCC’s board of directors.

According to the ACHEM letter – signed by its president, Dr. Ogadinma Obie – the organization “has recognized the increasing influence of corporate cannabis priorities over the council that has continually overshadowed or siloed equity-focused recommendations.

“USCC’s focus on short-term corporate and institution interests has hindered its ability to advance comprehensive and equitable cannabis policy reform. We are afraid the organization has strayed from its founding principles.”

The USCC said it did not believe the letter was fair or accurate and denied allegations that its priorities had changed.

“We are a big-tent coalition, and our members hold a range of views. But we are all steadfastly committed to ending cannabis prohibition, expunging cannabis charges and creating an equitable and values-driven cannabis industry,” USCC said in a statement to MJBizDaily in response to the ACHEM letter.

Before taking the helm of the USCC, Hawkins spent 3½ years as executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.

He previously spent eight years as executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, five years as executive vice president of the NAACP and more than two years as executive director of Amnesty International USA.

Tribble, who joined Curaleaf in March 2020, founded cannabis policy education group Marijuana Matters in 2017 and served as CEO of the Marijuana Policy Trust, which helps develop and run diversity, equity and inclusion programs in the cannabis industry.

Tribble also serves on the USCC’s DEI Task Force.

“My priority is advancing meaningful cannabis reforms through Congress this year that will provide the foundation for achieving our ultimate goal of federal descheduling while fostering an equitable and inclusive legal cannabis industry,” Tribble said in a statement.

According its website, the USCC has about 50 members, including U.S. multistate operators, large Canadian producers, ancillary businesses and single-state companies.

Omar Sacirbey can be reached at