These cannabis brands are giving back and promoting equity in the industry
The “war on drugs” is inextricably linked to racist policies and policing in America–and while attempts to liberalize marijuana laws in several states were meant in part to help correct some of those disparities, there is still much work to be done. Cannabis may be booming, but the industry is rife with inequities and discrimination. Less than five percent of cannabis businesses nationwide are Black-owned, while more than 80 percent are white-owned, one study found.
Even programs specifically designed to promote entrepreneurs of color who want to enter the industry have been criticized for falling short. L.A.’s social equity cannabis program has left many would-be business owners waiting in lengthy, complicated queues, and racking up debt paying for storefronts and other expenses even before they can open their new dispensary’s doors.
“The war on drugs destroyed so many families. We should at least get to come out on the other end and create some wealth out of it,” South L.A. resident and would-be dispensary owner Lanaisha Edwards told The Guardian. “But it’s not gonna happen the way this is going.”
LAPD data shows that Black and Latino residents have been as much as seven times more likely to be stopped, arrested, and serve prison time for marijuana charges than their white counterparts.
“How the hell is the face of cannabis white now, how could that even be possible when you see who did all the time in jail?” Edwards, who was herself arrested on a marijuana charge as a teenager, asked. “How could L.A. get this so wrong?”
Before products even reach retail dispensaries, there are growing concerns about who is getting rich off cannabis production. A small group of very large corporations has been hard at work consolidating the industry. Even Altria Group (owner of the Philip Morris cigarette companies and an investor in Juul) has spent big bucks to get a share of the cannabis business.
It can be challenging for a consumer who wants to buy cannabis products that give back to the community or support diversity within the industry, so we’ve attempted to pull together a list of some places to start.
Published: July 02, 2020
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News