Equity and inclusion in the cannabis industry


Cannabis is one of the newest, most versatile, and busiest industries in America. It created 77,000 jobs in the last year.

Leafy reported that in 2021, the 37 states with legal cannabis offer 321,000 full-time jobs in marijuana, which is more than the number of jobs for electrical engineers.

With so many jobs, the issue of social equity has become even more urgent.

Fortunately, many companies and organizations are taking legitimate steps to combat this problem.

The great obstacles to equity

Meg Sanders. Photo courtesy of Meg Sanders.

One of the main obstacles to entering the cannabis space is the associated cost license. In Massachusetts, for example, the Commonwealth Dispensary Association (CDA) had filed a lawsuit against a rule that only allowed minority homeowners to offer delivery during the early years of the legal industry.

This would give minority companies a clear advantage and help recover licensing spending. The CDA’s lawsuit had serious consequences, even if it has since been withdrawn.

Cannabis and technology today spoke with Meg Sanders and Erik Williams, owners of Canna Provisions in Massachusetts.

Sanders said: “The most important thing that keeps equity out of the cannabis industry is the cost of going in. And the regulations are thousands and thousands and thousands of pages, from then to sales tracking, to systems. security, going through a million other things that you have to do to get a license, they create an incredible hurdle right there. “

Erik Williams. Photo courtesy of Erik Williams.

He continued: “So if you want to solve the problem of social equity and economic empowerment in this industry, you need to rewrite the rules. This is number one. And then, if you go to the next layer of, well, why do these regulations exist? To keep people out. The system is not broken, the system is designed to work exactly as it is. And that is to make sure that only a certain number of people can take part. ”

Williams added that one of the reasons it is so difficult for social equity to take over the industry is that some people simply do not agree with having a viable, socially equitable system of economic empowerment. That’s why several new organizations have been created to offer a helping hand to potential entrepreneurs.

US Cannabis Council Initiative

U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC) is a non-profit organization and is one of the largest coalitions of major cannabis advocacy companies, associations, and organizations.

They aim to leverage collective experience to advance social equity, end the federal ban, update all regulations, and promote legitimately ethical standards within the cannabis industry.

The USCC recently hired Tahir Johnson, a former DEI manager at the National Association of the Cannabis Industry, to act as director of Equity and Social Inclusion. Johnson is expected to support the USCC mission with his experience in diversity and inclusion.

Tahir Johnson. Photo courtesy of Tahir Johnson.

Johnson says, “We are on the brink of federal cannabis legalization, and while there are many opportunities to have them, I am very interested in who has access to the opportunity. The USCC shares that passion and takes that position knowing that the Cannabis leadership has the power and responsibility to make a real and honest difference, and I look forward to participating. “

In its first 90 days, Johnson plans to engage with key stakeholders in the equity and non-cannabis community in the equity community through a statewide strategy, ensuring that equity efforts are within all legalization talks (including federal and state), enforcing accountability within the USCC, and setting up a working group to help members progress toward social equity goals.

Roz McCarthy, founder and CEO of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, said: “Tahir is a change agent committed to addressing the challenges of the industry related to social equity and social justice. I count on Tahir to have good problems, problems necessary in their struggle for social equity. “

Roz McCarthy. Photo courtesy of Roz McCarthy.

Organizations moving towards equity

He Organization of equity is dedicated to assisting with drug policy and other criminal justice reform policies for industry, educating the community, and advocating for effective and equitable approaches to marijuana policy and other criminal justice issues.

This organization was founded by Executive Director Natalie Papillion. The company spearheaded several initiatives to create a more equitable industry and help eliminate previous cannabis convictions of previously jailed people. The hope is that once cannabis is legal at the federal level, there will be an established and equitable basis on which to build.

At Good tree capital, smaller cannabis companies and entrepreneurs can get help with money management and even small loans. The company granted its first loan in 2017 and since then has assisted people with an average return on investment of 28.7%.

The company uses its own algorithm to assess credit risk. They believe they are innovative technology it allows them to determine the probability of default more accurately than traditional banks. By eliminating opportunities for human bias around race or gender, its technological approach could help remove barriers to capital for people of color and minorities.

Creating an equitable space for all people is a work in progress. However, companies like the USCC, The Equity Organization, and Good Tree Capital are making great strides in helping everyone find a place in the cannabis industry. ⁇

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