Steven Hawkins is no longer the CEO at the US Cannabis Council (USCC), a leading voice for ending the federal prohibition of cannabis.

In a 3:30 p.m. news dump on Friday, the organization announced that Khadijah Tribble, the senior vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility at multistate cannabis operator Curaleaf, is now the new CEO at USCC on an interim basis. 

USCC officials did not reveal whether Hawkins will be serving in a new capacity at the organization (or if he departed entirely) in a press release that was distributed to media members. Hawkins led USCC as CEO since its founding in February 2021.

Cannabis Business Times reached out to USCC for clarity on Hawkins’ involvement with the organization but did not immediately receive an answer.

“We thank Steven Hawkins for his integral role in launching USCC, and we are thrilled to welcome Khadijah Tribble to the role of CEO at this critical juncture for the cannabis industry,” Jessica Billingsley, chair of USCC and CEO of Akerna, said in a press release.

At Curaleaf, Tribble serves as a subject matter expert and strategic counselor to internal team members, investors and external partners in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), social equity, environmental sustainability and strategic partnerships.

She previously founded Marijuana Matters, a cannabis education and advocacy incubator, and served as CEO of the Marijuana Policy Trust, which helps develop and run DEI programs in the cannabis industry.

“She is deeply respected for her leadership, expertise and wide-ranging experience and is well-positioned to advance our mission of ending prohibition and creating an equitable, values-based industry,” Billingsley said.

Tribble, who has advocated for fair and equitable policies on behalf of marginalized communities throughout her career, according to the USCC press release, also serves on USCC’s 28-member DEI Task Force. She holds a master’s degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

“The US Cannabis Council unites my deep commitment to cannabis legalization with my passion for addressing the harms of prohibition,” Tribble said in the USCC press release. “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.”

USCC’s naming of Tribble as CEO comes on the heels of the Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM) sending an open letter Aug. 17 to Hawkins and other USCC leaders announcing the resignation of its honorary membership with USCC.

RELATED: Association For Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine Resigns From US Cannabis Council

In that letter, ACHEM president Ogadinma Obie, M.D., informed USCC leadership that her association’s resignation comes after she and other ACHEM leaders “recognized the increasing influence of corporate cannabis priorities over the council that has continually overshadowed or siloed equity-focused recommendations.”

USCC’s membership does include some of the world’s largest cannabis operators and related businesses in the industry, such as Curaleaf, Canopy Growth, Cronos Group, Cresco Labs, Columbia Care, Aurora Cannabis, Akerna, Ascend Wellness and others.

In addition, CBT learned this week that USCC has been without a director of social equity and inclusion since Tahir Johnson vacated that position in June.

“We are afraid the organization has strayed from its founding principles,” Obie wrote. “ACHEM cannot in good conscience maintain our membership in USCC when its current positions no longer align with efforts to make cannabis legalization first and foremost inclusive and equitable so that everyone in the United States, particularly those most harmed by cannabis prohibition, can holistically benefit from the nascent industry.”

Since launching last year, USCC leaders claim they have established the organization as the leading voice for cannabis reform in Washington, D.C. The organization has brought cannabis industry CEOs to meet with lawmakers in Congress, partnered with the sponsors of leading cannabis bills to advance reform and launched a campaign to advance passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.

Earlier this year, USCC partnered with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) to create an internship program for Black college students and recent graduates at leading cannabis companies and organizations.

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