Why We Need Racial Equality in the Cannabis Community
There’s a serious issue with equality in the Cannabis community. When it comes to vilifying our industry, the media focuses on young black men and how they are using cannabis as part of illegal activities. This is why it’s hard for those that are black to break into the business. Since the black community got hit hardest under marijuana prohibition and hasn’t been able to recover from the stigma, it’s mainly white men dominating the legal weed scene in states like Colorado and California.
But as the industry continues to grow, we also see that women, people of different gender identities as well as people of color are very noticeably absent from a lot of the success. Because many in these groups have bared the judicial brunt of the War on Drugs (particularly people of color) they are sadly the last to be experiencing the windfalls of the evolving legal landscape.
Additionally when it comes to those driving change, sixteen of 19 members of the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) are white males. The influential Marijuana Policy Project counts that white males as six of its nine key staff members.
The breakdown of the two 2014 Arcview Investor meetings in Las Vegas and San Francisco—the biggest venture capital collective operating in the cannabis industry today—favored white males by more than 90 percent at both events. That means women, people of color and those of different gender identities altogether make up the other 10%.
With 600,000 arrests made on average a year for possession of drugs and 85 percent of those for people of color it’s just more proof that minority communities have been virtually decimated by the enforcement of marijuana laws the most, yet are benefiting from legalization the least.
Although it is important to realize sexism, racism and homophobia are not exclusive to the cannabis industry, it’s still our communities responsibility of the entire cannabis community to make sure everyone is included. This includes focusing on ways to support these groups through investing financially, encouraging these groups through education and providing a stronger “picture” of the future our business that includes many different people.