Cannabis and the Black community have had a long history. As the conversation around the United States continues to revolve around the changes happening in the marijuana landscape and industry, it inevitably brings to light issues of social equity, racial justice, and the possibility of Black-owned cannabis businesses to fully permeate and succeed the market, what with the current booming marijuana industry being experienced throughout the country.
In light of decriminalization and marijuana legalizations happening in the country, one vital aspect that contributes to the overall discussion of cannabis and racial inequity is the War on Drugs, and by extension, the current American drug policy.
Given that more consumers and businesses experience the benefits, luxuries, and pleasures that come with changing restrictions in the marijuana landscape, it is essential that these privileges and profits are extended also to Black and Brown-owned cannabis businesses. After all, the cannabis market is slated to bring in around a whopping $166 billion come 2025.
As of writing, there are now 36 states in the United States where medical marijuana is legal with a doctor’s recommendation. Meanwhile, adult-use recreational marijuana use has been legalized in 16 states. Many other states are following suit, with New Mexico and Virginia’s laws taking effect this upcoming summer of 2021.
With these numerous changes in the field, it is quite exciting to see what the future holds for the cannabis industry. Not only does it help further break down the stigma associated with marijuana use and consumption, but it also gives consumers and businesses alike the chance to correct the damage inflicted by the war on drugs and the systemic racism that have long plagued the African American community.
Impact of the War on Drugs of Black Communities
Cannabis has long been painted as a dangerous drug, with it getting a bad reputation in society. Countless films and televisions can attest to the stigma and stereotypes attached to this, with the drug often being portrayed and reduced as an intoxicant which only beatniks and hippies used rather than being seen in a different light that highlighted the benefits it brought users.
The root of all this can be traced backed to racism. The United States government painted saw marijuana as a drug that stemmed freely into the country via the border, much like how it demonized the coming of numerous immigrants from Mexico, a comparison shared by John Hunak in his article titled, Marijuana’s racist history shows the need for comprehensive drug reform. Apart from this, the government has taken to profiling the use of the drug for Black communities alone, as well as inner-city dwellers, making these communities and individuals the target for unjust laws and practices.
With the country’s tight reign and prohibition on marijuana use and consumption, stringent approaches and practices took over, it has led communities and families, as well as individual lives to be ruined and to suffer. It has proven time and again that the War on Drugs has also been tied to race, with people of color more likely to be arrested at least four times more compared to white people.
The National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, otherwise known as NORML, revealed in a 2021 analysis that in New York City alone, around 94% of cannabis-related arrests involved African Americans, Indigenous people, and other people of color. And this is just for the year 2020.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said that this trend is likewise chalked up to significant and inherent racial bias. While African American communities, as well as other people of color, used and consumed marijuana at the same rate, arrests related to cannabis were higher for these communities, making them live at a disadvantage.
These racial injustices brought about by the drug control efforts of the government have led to police brutality, as well as arbitrary arrests and detention. Mass incarceration is also not to be left behind. All of these have contributed to affected parties failing to find decent work, to get the education they deserve, or to be afforded social and human rights such as having the opportunity to vote.
While the motive behind such attempts to regulate the drug is well and good, it still cannot be denied that the burden has fallen on communities of color. President Nixon’s initiative, alongside the current landscape, has allowed racial biases to enter and persist even in the legal justice system of today.
With the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking coming up this June, the call towards eliminating draconian and harsh policies from individuals and communities, particularly from that of people of color is a must. The legalization of marijuana in most states is just a start, with the reformation of laws and the decriminalization of cannabis-related offenses following suit just a tip of the iceberg.
The dismantling and the decolonization of existing drug policies is one of the best ways to end the repression long imposed on people of color. By extension, the turn towards addressing the traumatizing effects and the aftermath of the war on drugs is the next ideal step, with governments being urged to provide education and funding towards the marginalized sectors.
Why Support Black-Owned Cannabis Businesses
According to The Seattle Times, the cannabis industry is a field where only 3% of retail licenses are given to African American owners. Meanwhile, this number goes even lower for marijuana producers and processors, most of which only possess around 1%. This further emphasizes the disparity between white people and people of color and how they conduct their business, especially in a cutthroat field where Black communities are disparaged.
The effects that the War on Drugs had is undoubtedly irreversible. However, providing a more equitable landscape for owners and consumers should be observed to at least start giving amends to the affected communities.
One of the best ways to move against the growing disparity between white people and people of color in the cannabis industry is no other than to support black-owned cannabis businesses. Not only will this afford African American owners in the field increased points for entering the field, but it will also foster a culture of inclusivity.
More than this, support for Black-owned cannabis businesses can help entrepreneurs build their wealth, and by extension, give back to their communities. The opportunity to take part in enriching and rebuilding their respective communities through operating a cannabis business have once only been a dream. By giving our support to these establishments and businesses, we are doing our own part in elevating and giving access and voice to disproportionately affected communities.
It also goes without saying that buying from and supporting Black-owned cannabis businesses, especially from small ones, uplifts the economic well-being of individuals and communities in the area. This is particularly helpful for areas where large populations of Black communities live as it boosts the visibility of establishments and brands within the existing space.
Another way that marijuana businesses owned by African Americans also aid in the growth of the economic sector is through creating jobs for fellow people of color. With the cannabis industry being one of the fastest-growing sectors of today, and with more states coming on board with the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis, this creates the opportunity to provide more jobs for fellow Americans.
Most importantly, the support towards these entrepreneurs will pave the way for social equity licensing opportunities. At the same time, this will hopefully facilitate technical assistance to underserved communities, disproportionately affected individuals, and provide a better structure for market entry and access, something which can boost ownership of cannabis businesses within communities of color.
Black-Owned Cannabis Brands to Support
Uplifting the Black-owned cannabis brands and companies amidst a white-dominated industry can go a long way. Besides bridging the gap between wealth, barriers, and economic disparity, it also increases their visibility within the cannabis sector. Moreover, it also connects individuals and consumers to a culturally significant movement by mindfully and willfully aiding in the success of businesses that need to be seen, heard, and supported.
Many consumers in the market still remain unaware of who or what business to support and who to give their precious dollars to. Given that most movements today call for contributing towards the efforts and causes that support Black-owned businesses, it is only right that we make a conscious move towards highlighting brands owned by people of color. Below are some of them.
For those living in Brockton, Massachusetts, Legal Greens is a dispensary you might want to check out. Touted as the first-ever Haitian American and Black woman-owned recreational cannabis dispensary retailer in all of the East Coast.
Co-owned by Vanessa Jean-Baptiste, the recreational cannabis dispensary is among the grant winners of the economic empowerment program designed to uplift disproportionately affected members of the community.
The main idea behind this recreational dispensary is that it aims to empower people of color, fellow minorities, and women in making a dent in the world. In addition to this, Legal Green also intends to help individuals released from prison regain better footing as they join society once more.
The dispensary provides consumers access to an array of flowers and strains derived directly from marijuana. It assures its consumers that it only gives the freshest and cleanest products, allowing them to enjoy using marijuana through their vaporizers, bongs, joints, and the like. While the company still does not have an online store, interested parties can easily drop by their store at any time.
Potency is an essential aspect of using marijuana and hemp-derived products. After all, it allows the material or the compound to be in its most active form, allowing it to be more compatible with the human body. This is what exactly what Ardent all about with its decarboxylation technology.
Decarboxylation is the process of finely grinding up cannabis and properly toasting it to activate the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compound. The thought process behind this is that individuals and consumers who are avid fanatics of the drug can finally do so using only a small amount, allowing them not only to save money in the long run, but also make a much more personalized approach towards their own home use.
One of the products that Ardent takes pride in is the Nova, an electronic decarboxyler that makes doses and activation easy. With the ability to work with different types of cannabis, such as concentrates, flowers, and kiefs, individuals can readily consume this whenever they want either through eating it, through smoking it, or through infusion.
Based in Maryland, Bouqe takes rolling to new heights with its carefully made and curate range of natural rolling papers made with hemp. With this approach, the company ensures that the cannabis flowers take center stage.
What makes these hemp papers great is that they provide a slower and even burn, allowing us to enjoy our flowers up to the very end. With its design, it lends a smooth burn that highlights that taste of the strain and flowers being consumed, taking users to a whole new ballgame.
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Jane Parade covers just about all types of cannabis accessories and everything in between. Designed for women who are fond of using marijuana, this company and lifestyle brand founded by Janelle Benjamin-Grant provides an array of downright creative and beautiful products that make anyone go wild.
Perhaps one of the most useful items that frequent cannabis connoisseurs will enjoy is their gold grinder card. Sleek and classy, this can easily fit into just about any bag, wallet, or pocket, making it a convenient accessory to tote around for when the need to grind the herb arises.
Apart from this, Jane Parade also came up with equally beautiful celestial joint holder and a pearl joint holder, both of which exude elegance with every use. Other accessories that can be bought from its store include rolling papers, gold foil matches, and many more.
The Bottom Line
The country still has a long way to go to providing a truly equitable landscape for Black communities and other people of color, but it is definitely on the way toward reformation. With the social equity provisions included in the marijuana programs across the country, many individuals belonging to negatively affected communities have the chance to be economically and socially empowered through the industry.