Is White Supremacy in the Cannabis Industry Real?

white supremacy cannabis industry

Over the last few weeks, people around the world have had their eyes opened to the systematic racism that runs rampant in America’s ecosystem. From redlining, to Eurocentric curriculums, to the school-to-prison pipeline. If you’ve recently discovered these underlying forms of white supremacy that are deeply woven into the fabric of American society and the damage they’ve done –  you’re late, but welcome.

I know, white supremacy is a scary phrase, and it should be. It has affected all of us and has been the cause of death to hundreds of thousands of Black people.

But it’s 2020 and these systems are still in place, and, unfortunately, they’re still alive and well throughout the cannabis industry.

It is especially outrageous because the cannabis industry has a deep history of racism and excessive police force. For one, the War on Drugs was created to put people of color in jail and effectively serve as slaves, which has contributed to the overrepresentation of Black and brown people incarcerated in the American prison system.

The ACLU reported that even in 2020, Black people are 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than a white person. At the same time, the cannabis industry is predicted to be worth $73.6 Billion by 2027 and yet there are still 40,000 people in jail for cannabis crimes.

These are the facts and it worries me because the industry is still in its nascency. Change can still be done and it starts from within.

A cannabis company cannot simply post a black square on their Instagram grid and call it a day. 

I’ve seen cannabis dispensaries talk about their property loss from the uprising and it saddens me. It saddens me because it is clear that they value their property over people. 

In many states, even those with social equity plans in their cannabis legislation, there is still an extremely high barrier to entry to even participate in the cannabis industry. 

How can we expect people who come from communities most severely impacted by the war on drugs to be able to “pay to play”?

It’s not enough for a company to hire a Black person to be the face of the company so they can become a social equity applicant. Cannabis companies have to recognize that it isn’t enough to check off diversity, equity, and inclusion boxes. They have to be actively anti-racist in their practices and fight for justice.

Cannabis companies have to do better.

How do you think cannabis companies can make real change?

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