Despite speculation that minorities were vastly underrepresented in the industry, MJ Business Daily recently published a survey indicating otherwise. This caused a stir, as folks have historically touted that these numbers were much lower. However, the distilled results reveal that almost 45% of those businesses were ancillary, not license holders and not investors.
This matters. According to Jesce Horton, co-founder of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, the barriers facing minority cannabis business owners continue to mount against them [tweet this]. Difficult licensing processes, fees and hefty tax rates all work together “in opposition of minority entrepreneurship,” he told MJBizDaily.
Since whites hold a net worth 13 times that of blacks and 10 times that of Hispanics, these economic barriers disproportionately affect minorities. This means that minority ownership and leadership may, in fact, be as low as we all feared.
Minorities in Cannabis Entrepreneurship Matter
The War on Drugs has created a disproportionately negative impact for minorities; funding the industrial prison complex and creating lifelong penalties for minor possession of cannabis. As the legal industry booms, those same communities have been seemingly left out of the “green rush.” For example, regulations in Denver prohibit public consumption, overtly discriminating against those living in public/shared housing (versus those who have a private space to consume). For them, private consumption isn’t an option. This is pervasive -- white, flush-filled pockets continue to be served by the legal industry while minority communities suffer from Drug War hangovers.
As legalization continues to spread across the country, there is hope. Some agencies are working to help other states develop more equitable policies, while others are working to leverage community-buy in to support disproportionately impacted neighbors. Despite a rocky history, cannabis has the opportunity to do better.