2018 Needs More Diversity Within The Cannabis Industry

Photography by Lauren Crew

As the year comes to a close, we would like to address a critical issue within this industry, there is an alarming lack of people of color. It is no secret the U.S. judicial system is biased against people of color; especially in regards to cannabis charges.

Blacks are almost four times as likely to be arrested for possession; despite the usage rates on par with Whites. From 2014 – 2016, in NYC where possession of 25 grams or less is punishable by fine, 86% of arrests were to people of color, mainly who are Black and Hispanic.

Photography by Greenz California

On the startup investment side, less than 3% of venture capital firms consist of people who identify as Black or Hispanic; this low figure is disparaging. Not only from a diversity perspective as the global cannabis community identifies with everyone. This adds greater difficulty in finding investors to back the minority-led startups.

The cannabis industry is receiving heavy scrutiny; federal prohibition has conveniently excluded cannabis-related businesses from accessing banks and small business loans. Leaving only those with prior wealth, who can afford the startup costs and enter the marketplace.

The legalization of cannabis will have a monumental role in our lives. It also presents an opportunity to address and eliminate racial inequalities with policies that embrace all ethnicities.Photography by Ike Abakah

Did you know…

  • Amount spent annually in the U.S. on the war on drugs: $50+ billion
  • Number of arrests in 2016 in the U.S. for drug law violations: 1,572,579
  • Number of these arrests that were for possession only: 1,249,025 (84 percent)
  • Number of people arrested for a marijuana law violation in 2016: 653,249
  • Number of those charged with marijuana law violations who were arrested for possession only: 574,641 (89 percent)
  • Number of Americans incarcerated in 2016 in federal, state and local prisons and jails: 2,157,000, the highest incarceration rate in the world
  • Proportion of people incarcerated for a drug offense in state prison who are Black or Latino, although these groups use and sell drugs at similar rates as whites: 57 percent
  • Number of states that allow the medical use of marijuana: 29 + District of Columbia
  • Number of states that have approved legally taxing and regulating marijuana: 8 (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington)
  • Number of states that have decriminalized or removed the threat of jail time for simple possession of small amounts of marijuana: 22
  • Number of people killed in Mexico’s drug war since 2006: 100,000+
  • Number of people killed in the Philippines in drug war since 2016: 10,000+
  • Number of students who have lost federal financial aid eligibility because of a drug conviction: 200,000+
  • Number of people in the U.S. who died from a drug overdose in 2016: 64,070
  • Tax revenue that drug legalization would yield annually, if currently-illegal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco: $46.7 billion
  • In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 17 million whites and 4 million African Americans reported having used an illicit drug within the last month.
  • Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.

Also published on Medium.