On Thursday afternoon, speakers from the marijuana industry will address a Capitol Hill audience on the topic of diversity in the cannabis industry. With 25 states and the District of Columbia choosing to end cannabis prohibition in one form or another, the resulting legalized marketplace for its sale has currently been estimated at $7.1 billion dollars.
Despite the startling reality that people of color bear the brunt of the war on drugs, with 70-80% of arrests for cannabis possession happening in communities of color, it is estimated that under 1% of the growing legalized market is owned and/or operated by individuals of color.
“The marijuana industry, the reform movement, and policymakers need to not only ensure diversity and inclusion in the industry but also eliminate structural barriers that stack the deck against communities of color,” said Bill Piper, Senior Director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs and moderator of Thursday’s conversation. “Marijuana legalization without racial justice risks being an extension of white privilege.”
This policy briefing will include remarks from some of the most successful minority owners in the cannabis industry from Washington, DC to Colorado and California. The conversation will be shaped around their experiences operating in the market, potential solutions to address the disparity, and opportunities to use the cannabis industry as a vehicle to restore the harms caused by the war on drugs.
“It is clear the historical enforcement of cannabis prohibition has been overwhelmingly against people of color, now we are seeing the systematic exclusion of people of color through the state procurement process for licensing cannabis operators,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, a physician at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. “It’s simply unequal treatment under the law by another name. Minority cannabis operators from around the country are coming together to discuss how we can stop this discrimination and use the cannabis industry to create equity, economic justice, and restore communities most impacted by the failed war on drugs,” he said.
After the briefing, a reception featuring some of the most promising minority entrepreneurs and investors in the cannabis industry will be held at Mason and Rook Hotel rooftop bar: 1430 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005 from 6:00-9:00pm. Complimentary open bar and food will be provided.
Corey Barnette – Owner, District Growers Washington DC
Wanda James – Owner, Simply Pure Denver, CO
Giadha De Carcer – Owner, New Frontier Financials Washington, DC
Keith Stephenson – Owner, Purple Heart Patient Center Oakland, CA
The importance of diversity and inclusion in the growing cannabis industry
Please contact Queen Adesuyi for event details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Drug Policy Alliance
Metropolitan Wellness Center
National Holistic Healing Center
Purple Heart Patient Center