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Is the Marijuana Industry a Breakthrough Against Racial Disparity?

It’s known, it’s ancient history, racial disparity is part of every textbook in the world. And yet, we are never presented with the War on Drugs as a crucial movement that impacted racially disadvantaged people.

The War on Drugs waged in 1971 had a deteriorating impact on race relations in the country. The movement that was started in an effort to reduce the number of drug-related crimes in the state ended up being the root cause of a long war of racial disparity.

By Bernard Noble sentenced to 13 years in prison for possession of two marijuana cigarettesto Allen Russel, sentenced to life for possession of 30 grams of marijuana (as well as 2 previous convictions), the list of wrongful sentences for possession of marijuana is endless.

Rising arrest and incarceration rates have created a chasm in society that we are still trying to overcome. That’s not to say we’re still dealing with the same racial conditions as when the laws were originally created, but the tide is too wide and we’re still dealing with the aftermath.

The war continues today, with members of minority and marginalized races being targeted, especially black people, for drug-related crimes more often than other races.

However, it is still safe to say that with the legalization of medical and recreational marijuanaas well as decriminalization in several states, the number of POCs entering the marijuana market and speaking their minds, the number of arrests and incarcerations of people of color has decreased slightly.

However, even though the face of society has changed, the traumas of the past are not forgotten. What has led to the imprisonment of some is also what has led some to great success. As men of color were punished for possessing and using weed, new cannabis businesses sprang up that made some white entrepreneurs extremely wealthy.

Marijuana was one of the main drugs that the propaganda was supposed to oppose. So what makes us think the cannabis industry could help reduce racial disparities today? What changes have we witnessed as a society?

marijuana legalization

Marijuana Licensing Programs for Social Equity

The road to social equality is long and difficult to achieve, but social equity is a starting point. The first step is to set up fair and just scenarios for entrepreneurs to establish and conduct cannabis business despite their color.

These social equity programs have been put in place in recent years to help minorities and POCs take a stand in the marijuana industry, especially those disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs. The idea is simply to even out the platform as much as possible. While the starting point is different for those who are negatively impacted by cannabis and those who have made the most of the cannabis boom, current programs attempt to narrow these gaps as much as possible.

These equity programs are not the solution to decades of discrimination because they also have their limits. With high tax rates, varying regulations from city to city, a long and confusing application process, and the start-up costs required, all limit the reach of these programs.

That’s why the marijuana black market is still thriving. Not everyone can afford to be part of the legal market which requires a lot of commitment. It also puts other legal minority-owned businesses at a disadvantage, as only a few are able to thrive.

This gives us hope for programs that not only provide discounted licenses to minorities, but also support them with incentives, rent start-up fees, income support and more.

Celebrity-Owned Marijuana Companies

We all care about what our favorite celebrities are up to. These public figures are always in the public eye, scrutinized, appreciated and followed. So when we tell you that cannabis companies are being started by some of your favorite POC artists, that’s enough to get the conversation started.

Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Whoopi Goldberg, Al Harrington, Jaleel White and a slew of other African American celebrities are names that go well with marijuana today. These celebrities have well-established and well-functioning cannabis companies profiting from the industry.

These legends have made a name for themselves in the cannabis industry today, celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay-Z have also played their part by donating to black-owned marijuana businesses. The black rapper spent $10 million invest in minority-owned cannabis businesses

While these celebrities have used their name and fame to garner consumers loyal to their brands, there is a long list of black-owned marijuana businesses that were created from the ground up and need investment.

Minority-Owned Small Businesses

Small new black entrepreneurs are still struggling to establish their own lines, with the majority of them finding themselves short of investments. They missed the marijuana boom and we’re not the only ones who think so.

At the current scale, the platform is not even. Some have more to invest, others start from scratch. The racial disparity is still there, very visible, very obvious. But with the legalization of possession and use of marijuana also comes the ability to run marijuana businesses in some states. Members of minority races have understood this and are all up for grabs.

Brands like Simply Pure, run by military veterans specifically dedicated to fighting for black rights; or a company like Supernova Women, run by a group of black women and POC, has become a beacon of hope. These brands, like many others, that are managed by POC have made easy access to cannabis a reality.

Some other well known brands like Mary and Maine, Deuces 22 and 99th Floor etc. have also taken over the cannabis market today.

Although slightly fewer in number and smaller in size, the entry of black men and women and other people of color into the cannabis industry is turning the tide.


The War on Drugs has not been fair in its impact, and neither has law enforcement. Trouble has been looming over people of color for too long and only recently, after changes in cannabis legalization, have they loosened the noose. Blacks and Hispanics can now enter the cannabis game a little stronger, as a community rather than as a business. With several black-owned brands giving back to their community, celebrities starting their own businesses and supporting those of other POCs, we may be one step closer to our goal of breaking racial disparity.

It must be remembered that there is a long and vast history of social and racial disparities that are difficult to eradicate. Discriminations still live in your history books and memories, they cannot be undone. Even with current legislation, equity programs and greater POC representation in the industry, we still have a long way to go.

Vincent Jules

Vincent Jules is a content writer specializing in health and education beats. He really enjoys writing about marijuana legalization, new cannabis technologies, and anything new about CBD. His latest efforts focus on educating consumers about cannabis as a therapeutic alternative. He loves to dive deep into cannabis-related research papers, and more importantly, he writes with passion about medical marijuana.

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