Speaking Truth to Power: our experience with Cura / Select
For the past year, many women in the Cannabis space have had a giant pit in the bottom of our collective stomachs. Caught in an internal battle between justice and intimidation all the while hopelessly wishing the situation just didn’t exist. But it does, and with the latest news of Cura Cannabis, the supplier for many of the best-known cannabis brands that sells oils under the name Select, selling for $1 billion, the time to speak up is now.
Last May, we read the very raw and terrifying first-person account of sexual battery and rape from a woman who claimed she was possibly drugged and brutally attacked by Nitin Khanna, the former CEO (but current Secretary) of Cura, in the early morning hours of his own wedding in 2014. The woman, a friend of the bride, had been hired as the bride’s hairdresser for the wedding. Khanna denied the accusations and reached an undisclosed civil settlement with his accuser. While DNA evidence did prove there was sexual contact between Khanna and the woman, prosecutors concluded they could not demonstrate it was not consensual. "That is not to say that the sexual assault didn't happen exactly as the victim describes," county prosecutors wrote in a memo explaining their decision. "The problem we have is that we cannot prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt."
After reading the story of this woman’s horrifying nightmare, we could not remain silent. The story that had already been widely reported in the press years prior, was shared on our @MJLifestyle Instagram Story Highlights under Awareness. We believe the woman's story and demanded accountability. Cura responded with this letter, then began a legal campaign against 20 female-focused social media users including @MJLifestyle and others who remained anonymous. Women were pulled in for depositions and incurred thousands of dollars in attorney fees.
It’s a very long convoluted story that seems to have no beginning or end, just like all the other stories we hear that express the same patriarchal tendencies of our culture. From Roy Moore to Brett Kavanaugh to Nitin Khanna—women step forward and tell their stories in detail too vivid to deny and we don't believe them, and worse, we shame them for tarnishing the reputations of these "good men."
Case in point, as stated in the letter, Cura announced Khanna stepped down from CEO last year after public outcry over the alleged sexual battery and rape complaint filed against him only to find he is still very much a part of the Cura/Select culture. Khanna is currently listed as the Secretary in public records and certainly still owns a portion of the financial assets of the company. He is even known to moonlight as a DJ under the name DJ Kitten(!!) at Select private parties. The below screenshot is from a March 30th, 2019 Instagram post of Khanna (bottom right) finishing up a mass fulfillment at Select (the post was quickly removed after it was posted).
As the industry continues to develop and more cannabis events pop up, we’ve witness Select products on tables everywhere. It pains us to know that so much of our industry is choosing to turn a blind eye at the integrity of this brand’s leaders. What if I was to run into this man at any other cannabis event? How safe should I or any other woman feel? And what happens now? They have an endless supply of money, lawyers at their disposal and obviously make up their own rules. It's a truly terrifying recipe that has been used time and time again to silence women in this country.
As a publication raising awareness about brands that are working to empower and uplift women; it’s our job and role to also share the not-so-pretty side of the industry and hold companies accountable. This behavior is not ok in any industry and no woman should ever feel threatened to speak up her truth. We hope and encourage event planners, brands and storefronts, etc to also be more mindful of the the company you keep.
For more read: Cura Cannabis, Portland’s billion-dollar marijuana company, has a tortured past by Mike Rogoway, The Oregonian