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Opinion

The Diversity Gap in the Cannabis Industry

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fizkes on Deposit Photos

The cannabis industry has a diversity problem. At the time I am writing this, 19 states have fully legalized cannabis. Investors and entrepreneurs are sprinting to get a seat at the table, as the industry is projected to be worth $24 billion. However, it doesn’t seem like the seems at the table are being handed out to everyone.

Imbalance in leadership

A 2017 study by Marijuana Daily found only 19% of cannabis company’s CEOs and founders were minorities. There have been plenty of efforts by minority entrepreneurs since, including massive names like Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Mike Tyson and Whoopi Goldberg. However, the industry is still lopsided toward white entrepreneurs despite the historical biases and stereotypes toward minorities. It is a problem everywhere. There are provisions to right the wrongs of the past, but many have several loopholes that are being exploited and aren’t correcting the overall issue at hand. 

Discrepancies in the cannabis industry

Past discrimination against minorities and cannabis is a big reason for the uproar around diversity in the industry. The Wall Street Journal found that minorities are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana usage. And in the same study, they found that white people are more likely to use cannabis regularly. Everyone deserves an equal chance in the cannabis industry. You could be reading this and feeling the same way, but what can you do?

What can we do?

I cannot snap my fingers and become a Black cannabis entrepreneur tomorrow. I am not involved in making any sort of policy or provision that could correct the issue either. I can use my money as a consumer to support the businesses and CEOs of my choosing. Millennials and Gen Z have already used this strategy before, and this trend is continuing with cannabis. 

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