Black Cannabis Businesses Face Discrimination And Hardship

Cannabis farmer in field
William Anderson
February 17, 2020

Cannabis is a billion-dollar industry that’s booming with success. More and more places around the country have relaxed their laws regarding its sale for both medical and recreational purposes. 

But for Black people who want in? It’s complicated.

Plenty of Black people are more than free to buy … but big (white) business is blocking out Black entrepreneurs who want to make a profit. The war on drugs decimated our communities - and some thought legally selling marijuana could be a form of reparations. What they’ve come to find is a different reality.

For instance, fewer than 20 out of 100 cannabis businesses in Los Angeles appear to be Black-owned  - even though a government program was designed to provide licenses to those oppressed by the war on drugs! In Maryland, the approval process has often excluded Black owners from obtaining licenses. This discrimination is happening all over the country.

Organizations like the Minority Cannabis Business Association exist to help make the industry deliver in more equitable ways. But places with lax laws STILL TARGET Black folks disproportionately for punishment.

For owners like Denver’s Wanda James, the first Black owner in the business, the struggle continues. She opened a dispensary to challenge the racism of the war on drugs and the criminal justice system. Now, it’s time for the industry to catch up with Black owners like her!

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