J. Henry Alston Jr. of James Henry SF says cannabis is the plant that bridges us all together.
And who would disagree with this US Navy Veteran turned cannabis entreprenuer? With a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Southern University and A & M College, LA, Alston combines years of focused experience in military and civilian aviation, manufacturing and industrial engineering applications, consumer packaged goods, and business consulting to Oakland’s Equity Program.
Alston has also had a community voice as an advocate for various initiatives throughout his lifetime. Having participated in various demonstrations from Louisiana to NYC to Oakland and San Francisco.
He holds an impressive track record of diverse leadership experiences throughout his professional career working with organizations such as Southern University (LA), Linde North America (NJ), Viacom and Al-Jazeera (NYC), Mt. Morris Park Community Improvement Association (NYC), and Whirlpool Corporation (OK).
In additon to his professional accomplishments, Alston holds a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt for practicing business-process engineering, experimental design, and analytical operational excellence. These diverse skills allow Alston to integrate his operational and logistical expertise to develop and deploy lean production/business processes at James Henry SF. Practices that help run the day-to-day operations at JHSF while utilizing professional strategies such as “Continuously Improving Organization (CIO) Practices” to drive sales and new brand ambassador strategies.
Starting from ground zero for the industry’s social equity movement Alston has spoken on stage at various outlets including MJ Biz Con (NOLA and Vegas), CannaGather LA, and the SF Cannabis Task Force, to name a few. Candid Chronicle was lucky enough to have him spend some time answering a few questions about how he hopes to help fellow social equity and Minority-owned businesses while continuing to grow JHSF and future endeavors.
Where are you based?
How did you get involved in the cannabis industry?
If you own an organization, how and why did you create it?
We designed James Henry in response to our own initial experiences in dispensaries. Our founding team and investors saw an opportunity to advocate and educate, become conscious entrepreneurs, and be a part of a global multi-billion dollar conversation. At the time, the cannabis industry was comprised of less than 1% ownership by African-Americans, a very disproportionate rate to the number of men and women serving time for petty possession and other charges across states that we’re benefiting from taxes, lower opioid overdoses, and more. We created James Henry SF from a sustainably progressive and commercial approach that would incorporate art, science, community, and style. The brand had to break the negative stigma looming around cannabis consumption and we wanted to design the brand for all consumers to enjoy with experience-based messaging as well as plant cultivar information.
What sets you apart in the cannabis industry?
What life changes occurred when you entered the cannabis industry?
What about the cannabis industry and community do you love?
Do you have any frustrations, hopes, fears as cannabis changes?
As cannabis legalization continues across states and federally, we are inherently frustrated at the time that it is taking to release innocent brothers and sisters from prison and the war on drugs. It’s frustrating that legislatures can craft policy while intentionally leaving out cannabis equity and socioeconomic focus in a multi-billion dollar industry where a lot of Black and Brown communities are being left behind, again. Our hopes are that we can continue to grow as an organization and contribute MORE to these conversations with actionable lobbying, expungement, community workforce development and investment, and more. And we hope that all cannabis companies alike can support these causes immediately and willingly.
What were some of your challenges getting started in cannabis?
Where would you like to see yourself in the cannabis industry 3 years from now?
What does the future of cannabis look like to you?
How do you plan to make a positive difference in the cannabis industry?
What makes you proud or gratified to be a part of the “legal” cannabis industry?
Do you consume cannabis? If so, how do you prefer to consume?
What’s your favorite strain/cannabis product/etc?
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself or your business?
We’re excited to be a functioning and scaling cannabis equity brand in California! We’re looking at expanding into more states in 2021 to spread the James Henry Experience and Community Love! Be on the look out for more engaged and interactive content from our co-founders, make sure you get involved with purchases and engagements!
James Henry is a minority-owned and operated cannabis company with licensed, manufacturing, distribution, and retail delivery compliant operations in Oakland, CA as a part of Oakland’s Equity Program. They support diversity and inclusion in the cannabis industry by creating opportunities and partnerships that help further the goal of socio-economic justice in the cannabis space.