The first Black CEOs of Philly-based cannabis company Ethos

The first Black CEOs of Philly-based cannabis company Ethos

A Philly guy by way of Florida is stepping up to lead a local large player in cannabis, as the industry works to make its ownership and executive leadership more diverse.

Gibran Washington, 39, has been named the new CEO of Ethos, a vertically integrated, multi-state operator headquartered in Philadelphia, the company announced this week. Founded in 2019, Ethos operates 13 dispensaries across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Massachusetts, including two in Philadelphia. It also operates three large cultivation facilities, with its Pennsylvania growing outpost sitting in the former U.S. Steel’s Fairless Works in Fairless Hills, Bucks County.

The promotion makes Washington among the first Black CEOs to lead a cannabis company of that scale. He said his appointment comes at “the right time,” as in recent years marijuana legalization has seen an increased focus on social justice related to the impacts of the war on drugs, which has disproportionately impacted Black communities.

“Being an African-American is a huge responsibility to be in this industry,” Washington said. “We understand how this issue was used to disenfranchise us for so long, to vilify us, and put us in these boxes where we were lesser than.”

Still, the legal and medical marijuana industries remain dominated by white executives and owners. According to a 2021 Business Insider analysis, white men make up 70% of C-suite positions at the 14 largest publicly traded marijuana companies, with just 7% of executives surveyed identifying as Black. And according to a 2017 Marijuana Business Daily study, vertically integrated cannabis companies — ones that cultivate, process, and sell their own marijuana — like Ethos have about 12.3% of executive positions filled individuals who identified as being from a non-white demographic.

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Photo: Gibran Washington, 39, is the new CEO of the cannabis company Ethos, which is headquartered in Philadelphia. Courtesy of Ethos.



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