Why The Weed Industry Needs More Diversity
Medical cannabis is an emergent industry, and diversity must be woven into the fabric of this multi-billion dollar business from the beginning.
Medical cannabis is an emergent industry, and diversity must be woven into the fabric of this multi-billion dollar business from the beginning. We acknowledge that there are those in our communities who remain steadfast in their opposition to the expansion of the availability of cannabis.
What value do diversity and inclusion add to the fastest-growing industry? This post presents the views of a top cannabis recruiter on cannabis companies becoming diversified and inclusive. This goes with the opportunities for hiring and getting hired in the cannabis industry.
People of Colour in the Marijuana Industry
A recent investigation from Buzzfeed found that of the 3,600 storefront marijuana dispensaries, only around 1% are black-owned companies. Many believe this to be a direct result of the increased likelihood of marijuana-related arrests in the black community.
According to a 2013 report from the American Civil Liberties Union, marijuana use is roughly equal amongst black and white individuals, though black individuals are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
While over half the United States have some form of legalised marijuana, some of these states bar people who have been convicted of drug crimes from owning, working, or investing in legal marijuana businesses.
While issues like diversity and decriminalization are controversial topics for the marijuana industry, more people of colour are speaking out through conventions, panels, and the media to make sure their voices are heard.
Why Diversity Matters
Concerns about racial diversity in the cannabis industry are being echoed throughout the U.S. as more states legalise marijuana. Diversity advocates cite costly licensing fees and prohibitions on licensing approval for individuals with criminal records.
As two ways that state regulatory requirements disproportionately exclude people of colour from marijuana-focused businesses.
According to a study conducted by The Drug Policy Alliance, 70-80% of arrests for cannabis possession happen in communities of colour, while it is estimated that under 1% of the growing legalised market is owned and/or operated by individuals of color.
The inherent value of bringing new cultures and perspectives to an industry is only a small reason diversity in the legal marijuana industry is important. Removing the negative social stigma of marijuana, as well as easing some of the legal barriers that inhibit marijuana dispensary expansion will bring more jobs and more economic growth.
This is true especially in minority communities. Danielle Schumacher at THC Staffing Group, a business dedicated to helping diversify the legal marijuana industry agrees.
“Diversity is far more than just a moral issue,” Schumacher noted. “In the 21st century, it’s a business and economic necessity.”