Black entrepreneurs who say people of color are being shut out of the lucrative marijuana trade are joining forces to close the gap.
Real Action for Cannabis Equity, or RACE, launched Thursday in Boston, and its founders said the coalition will work to create more opportunities in the industry for minority owners.
Organizers said they're frustrated that all but two of Massachusetts' 184 marijuana business licenses have been issued to white operators. Voters in the state approved recreational marijuana use and sales in a 2016 referendum.
Across the U.S., black people have had difficulty entering the marijuana trade, often because they historically were targeted by anti-drug crackdowns that left them with criminal records.
In Massachusetts, black people were 3.3 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession in 2014 — two years before legalization — despite using the drug at similar rates, RACE said in a statement.
Many communities are using those convictions to deliberately exclude people of color as they license marijuana businesses, said coalition co-founder Richard Harding.