During this four-part series, join Marijuana Matters as we discuss using our resources as cannabis consumers and advocates to promote social equity. This is part two. You can find part one here.

Image for post
Image for post
Roz McCarthy, Founder and CEO of Minorities for Medical Marijuana

We’ve only just begun to see a real shift in American attitudes about cannabis prohibition in the last decade. Go back even just a few years, and the majority consensus on pot was that it should be locked away, just like the people who used it.

Cannabis criminalization has driven the mass incarceration of Black people, but that reality was mostly lost to the general public. The idea of creating pathways for people with cannabis convictions to wealth through the cannabis industry was unusual, but there were advocates like Roz McCarthy, founder and CEO of Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM), having that conversation. …


During this four-part series, join Marijuana Matters as we discuss using our resources as cannabis consumers and advocates to promote social equity. This is part one.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo courtest of @cannaclusive

Chances are you’re reading this because the path the regulated cannabis industry is on doesn’t sit well with you, and you want to do something about it.

Marijuana industry leaders can thank Black and Brown communities — communities targeted by the war on drugs — for cannabis’ popularity today, but more often than not, they don’t. …


Image for post
Image for post

During this four-part series, join Marijuana Matters as we break down the regulatory barriers to social equity in the cannabis industry. This is part 4. You can read part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here.

Starting a cannabis business is an expensive venture. If you want to open a business directly involved in growing, processing, or distributing cannabis, you’ll need to fund the following:

· Licensing. You’ll need to obtain the appropriate cannabis license from the state and municipality your business will operate in. For example, in Colorado a retail marijuana store license costs $7,000. …


Image for post
Image for post

During this four-part series, join Marijuana Matters as we break down the regulatory barriers to social equity in the cannabis industry. This is part 3. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

A company that cultivates, processes, and sells its own cannabis is vertically integrated. When regulators gather in a room to talk about vertical integration, this is usually what gets covered:

· Vertical integration is appealing to corporations because it reduces costs and amplifies efficiency at every segment of the industry.

· Regulators like vertical integration because it simplifies their job. Instead of issuing a license to a cultivator, a processor, and a retailer, regulators can issue a single license to a company responsible for conducting all three operations, or all three licenses to a single operator. …


Image for post
Image for post

During this four-part series, join Marijuana Matters as we break down the regulatory barriers to social equity in the cannabis industry. This is part 2.

When a white-owned multistate operator (MSO) in the cannabis space posts #BlackLivesMatter, it gets to jump into a global discussion many of its customers are vigilantly paying attention to and often a part of. It gets to symbolically join a movement while growing its business in and near the communities at the center of the conversation.

But what do the predominantly Black communities harmed by the war on drugs get? What do the mostly Black men and women sitting in prisons and jails (for selling the same weed now on that MSO’s shelves) get? What do the disproportionately Black individuals with cannabis arrest records get? What do Black lives get? Symbolic gestures aren’t worthless. …


Image for post
Image for post

During this four-part series, join Marijuana Matters as we break down the regulatory barriers to social equity in the cannabis industry. This is part 1.

“Permitting those who have demonstrated the interest and willingness to ignore state and federal drug laws sends the wrong signals to those who would participate in the legal, regulated industry.” — Robert Mayerson, CEO of Patriot Care

Robert Mayerson’s words tell on themselves.

In early 2017, Mayerson wrote a letter to the Massachusetts Public Health Commission urging the exclusion of people with cannabis convictions from the state’s medical marijuana industry. His plea ignored the irony of his own participation in an industry that remains illegal at the federal level. This hypocrisy is not surprising. …


Image for post
Image for post

Got questions about social equity in the cannabis industry? Great! Marijuana Matters is here to break it down for you.

What is social equity?

Social equity is a commitment to fairness and justice. It addresses the underlying systemic inequalities that make certain resources less accessible to vulnerable populations.

What is social equity in cannabis?

Marijuana Matters defines social equity in the cannabis industry this way:

Social equity is the equitable distribution of resources and services by all public serving institutions to promote and ensure fair and equitable access to opportunities and outcomes for individuals from and in communities historically and disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.

Policy makers and businesses can begin to engage in the process of social equity by questioning how policies, legislation, and practices benefit or harm communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. …


Image for post
Image for post

On January 16, 1865, the US government agreed to give land to formerly enslaved Black people.

It was an astonishing promise. 400,000 acres on the southeastern coast of the United States would be taken from confederates and redistributed to Black people.

Those reparations were given and then promptly taken away.

President Andrew Johnson revoked the order in the fall of 1865. Instead of the opportunity to build wealth, Black people were given Jim Crow, lynching, redlining, the war on drugs, and mass incarceration.

And now we watch in dismay as cannabis legalization fails to repair and restore the communities of color prohibition tore apart. …


Image for post
Image for post

Sharing #BlackLivesMatter and Juneteenth posts is not the same as implementing social equity.

The political moment we are in has made it strategic for cannabis brands to say the right thing.

But doing the right thing will require them to give something up. That’s because white corporations have historically benefited from structural racism.

While wealthy white people have been given a leg up in the establishment of the regulated cannabis industry, hundreds of thousands of black people have — largely through cannabis arrests — been ensnared by a criminal justice system already rigged against them.

Corvain Cooper is one of those people. …


The past days and weeks have brought on a deep sense of loss, pain, and fear. The murders of unarmed Black people, most recently George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, at the hands of white individuals and law enforcement agents is a narrative with which we are all too familiar. Along with the victims’ family and community members, these losses are felt collectively by Black people across the country.

Our country has long struggled to address the racial injustice and discrimination that takes place within our public institutions — spanning from education and health care to the criminal justice system. …

About

Marijuana Matters

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store