Christopher Carlos Cano is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and New Leaders Council Tampa Bay 2016 Fellow.
In his time serving in the U.S. Air Force, Christopher developed many of the core values that he still lives by today. His military career cut short by a knee injury, Chris matriculated to the University of South Florida where he continued his public service, interning in the Florida House of Representatives and later seeking to represent his community in public office as a state representative himself. Graduating with a Masters Degree in Public Administration in 2013, public service remains his calling.
Cano’s post-graduate work includes working as an organizer for Charlie Crist for Governor in 2014, United for Care’s Medical Marijuana Amendment campaign in 2015, and overseeing a successful field campaign for the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s race in 2016 which unseated one of the worst prohibitionists in the country. Today Christopher spends his days coordinating public policy efforts for the Service Employees International Union members. Yet, the reason most people know him is his advocacy work as a founder of the Suncoast Chapter for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
It was the diagnosis of his father with a terminal form of dementia that put Chris on his current path. In 2014, he was arrested for breaking the law to treat his father with medical marijuana and just like that he was thrust into the front lines of criminal justice reform. Almost a decade later, Suncoast NORML stands as the largest and most influential marijuana policy group in Florida having worked to make it legal for medical use statewide and collaborating with local governments to adopt decriminalization ordinances while pressuring members of Congress to end cannabis prohibition.
While his own father never got the opportunity to benefit from Florida’s medical marijuana program, Chris continues to fight for a patient-centric system that will provide safe and accessible cannabis to those who need it.