In the cannabis world, we like to say cannabis is for everyone. It now grows on almost every continent. Civilizations across time and space have documented its use and value. The data would agree; Black and white Americans use cannabis at similar rates. In some places, like NYC, whites toke even more.
President Biden has called for federal decriminalization and floated the idea of providing aid to states who want to immediately expunge all those with cannabis-related records. But questions of equity and diversity in the industry still don’t have clear answers.
Despite more than half the country (33 states) having legalized cannabis in some form, Black Americans are still more than three times more likely to be arrested for a non-violent cannabis crime than white Americans, the ACLU finds. Equity as a tenet of the industry wasn’t introduced until minority communities in Oakland and San Francisco pushed for it back in 2017. A vast majority of cannabis business owners (three-quarters) remain white.
Blacks contribute mightily to the industry and culture of cannabis, so we researched who has the top-shelf, and spoke to pioneers about a life-changing year, and where cannabis lovers can put their dollars to make cannabis an industry for everyone.
Black-owned cannabis businesses exist in every state, but there’s no better place to start than the country’s oldest, biggest legal cannabis market—California. The Golden State is where the term ‘cannabis dispensary’ was coined, where equity programs got their start, and the most Black-owned canna-businesses are flourishing.
Published: January 18, 2021
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News