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Black-owned businesses in cannabis: 5 reasons why they matter

The cannabis industry is a booming market, and it’s growing every day. But, even though the United States is the largest legal cannabis market, less than 4% of cannabis businesses in America are Black-owned.

Woman with weed McGregor LaPierre

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Let’s keep it two Virgils. We all know that Black people have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs, resulting in the mass incarceration of Black men. If we look at this in numbers, Black people make up about 13% of the United States population, but they represent almost 60% of those imprisoned for drug-related offenses.

Mass Incarceration for non-violent drug offenses has devastated many Black communities and made it difficult for people to find jobs or get an education.

By 2028, the legal global cannabis market may be valued at $84 billion. As the cannabis industry continues to boom, there is a massive opportunity for Black business owners to prosper in a new industry. Here are seven reasons why Black-owned businesses in cannabis matter.

1. The War on Drugs has devastated many Black communities

In 1971, Former President Nixon declared a “war on drugs.” By 1973, the Drug Enforcement Agency was created as a national response to enforce a zero-tolerance campaign against drug offenders. Though the days of Jim Crow are long over, racial bias among law enforcement and in our legal justice system has persisted.

According to the Journal of Drug Issues, In 2011, Black inmates accounted for 50% of all drug offenses with a sentence of more than one year. They also noted the stark contrast in how the Opioid crisis, which heavily affects whites in the suburbs, is being treated as a health crisis compared to the crack epidemic of the 1980s.

When Former President Ronald Regan stepped into office, he expanded on Nixon’s policies. His extreme penalties for drug-related offenses led to a massive wave of incarceration among nonviolent offenders. Congress passed the anti-drug Abuse Act in 1986, which established mandatory minimums for imprisonment.

The fake “War on Drugs” has been proven to not only be racist and ineffective. It has also been acknowledged that it is an expensive expense for taxpayers. As reported by American Progress, since 1971, it has cost the United States an estimated $1 trillion. In 2015, the federal government spent an estimated $9.2 million every day to incarcerate people charged with drug-related offenses — that’s more than $3.3 billion annually.

The War on Black Families

“One in nine black children has an incarcerated parent, compared to one in 28 Latino children and one in 57 white children.” The “War on Drugs” has devastated the Black family structure. Countless children are being raised in one-parent homes for minor drug offenses that we’re persecuted to the fullest extent.

Over the years, research has confirmed that children of incarcerated parents are more likely to be high school dropouts, and suffer from physical and mental health issues. Moreover, they are far more likely to experience economic hardships and instability.

The damage that has been done to the Black community will never be reversible, but creating an equitable cannabis industry is a start to rectify the atrocities our communities have endured.

2. Legal cannabis is an $84 billion industry

Globally, the cannabis industry market value has the potential to reach $84 billion, and some speculate that this number can be much more. If you’re a Millennial or Gen Z, chances are you didn’t have the opportunity to cash in on the internet boom. However, because cannabis is still in its infancy, you have the opportunity to invest in this green rush.

Cannabis entrepreneurship can help us build Black wealth and help to rebuild our communities that the “War on Drugs” ravaged. Let’s look at the numbers on the table in crucial hotbeds across the United States.

Legal Cannabis States ranking in BIG revenue

California

There are over 28 million residents in California that are of the legal age to consume cannabis. This makes the state the most prominent legal cannabis market in the world. In 2020, California cashed out with $4.4 billion in revenue.

Colorado

In 2020, Colorado ranked in $2.2 billion, making it their most profitable year to date since recreational legalization. As the Denver Post reports, the state collected over $387 million in tax revenues and fees.

Michigan

The cannabis industry is on fire in Michigan and, to date, over 6 million consumers are over the legal age limit. Within the next three years, its legal market is estimated to be valued at $3 billion.

Florida

Though Florida has only legalized medicinal cannabis, it’s proven to be a very lucrative market. In 2020, its market cashed out well over $1.2 billion in cannabis sales and added 15,000 jobs to Florida’s economy.

Newcomer States with BIG Potential

New Jersey

Adult-use cannabis in New Jersey is projected to be a $1 billion market. Its new bill gives licensing priority to micro businesses for residents affected by the “War on Drugs.” About 30% of the licenses issued must be given to minorities, women, and veteran-owned businesses.

New York

The home of some of hip hop’s finest just legalized recreational cannabis and is setting the stage for a billion-dollar market on the east coast. In 2019, over 265 million people visited the state, resulting in $73.6 billion in direct visitor spending. It’s no wonder why many are betting on New York’s market to become a big contender.

3. Community Enrichment

Rebuilding our communities through cannabis entrepreneurship is a silver lining that many of us never saw coming. However, the reality is that there are many opportunities for such small Black businesses to help with that. Civic engagement at the state and local level is vital for the Black community to voice their concerns about inclusivity, and ensured that a fair market includes us.

Companies owned by African-Americans tend to have local headquarters, so they are typically located in towns and cities with large Black populations. Creating and supporting Black-owned small businesses in cannabis are integral to the economic well-being of the people who live near them.

InclusiveBase, created by Cannaclusive and ALMOSTCONSULTING, amplifies the visibility of Black-owned brands in that space, which helps to support the enrichment of our communities.

4. Job Creation

It’s no secret the cannabis sector is one of America’s fastest-growing industries. The industry is poised for long-term exponential growth. In 2020, cannabis legalization won more votes in multiple states than both candidates in the presidential election.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been highly vocal about ending the Federal prohibition of marijuana. He’s also been very clear that he will move forward on Federal cannabis legalization with or without the president.

As more states continue to legalize cannabis, this provides them with a huge opportunity to create more jobs. Cannabis becoming an essential business during the pandemic makes it clear that this is a recession-proof lane. As reported by Leafly, the cannabis industry now supports over 321,000 full-time jobs.

Cannabis entrepreneurship is not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t invest in the cannabis industry or start a budding career in this sector.

5. Generational Wealth Creation

The cost of systemic racism has been extremely expensive. Slavery and the Jim Crow Era have setback multiple generations of Black families financially. In 2019, a survey conducted by the Federal Reserve concluded that “the typical white family has eight times the wealth of the typical Black family and five times the wealth of the typical Hispanic family.”

Recently, Evanston, IL approved the country’s first reparations program. The revenue comes directly from a 3% tax on legalized cannabis. The Restorative Housing Reparations program will be providing up to $25,000 to eligible residents for housing. The creation of Black generational wealth through cannabis entrepreneurship is one of the most important reasons Black ownership in cannabis matters.

As you celebrate this 4/20, be sure to celebrate brands created by Black women and men who are paving the way for future Black cannaprenuers, too.

Happy 4/20!

Martine Pierre MBA is the founder of Cannalution and a Growth & Content Marketing Strategist. Known as the Lioness of Marketing, she aims to serve as the GPS for Black and Brown founders in the cannabis space, empowering them to start, build and scale their businesses through a mix of education and collaboration. Martine’s mission is to level the playing field and bring social equity to the communities affected the most by its legalization.

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