People of color have faced hurdles in joining the burgeoning legal cannabis industry, despite bearing the brunt of marijuana arrests from the United States’ war on drugs. But many lawmakers and entrepreneurs are now making social justice a pillar — even a necessity — of how they approach the growing field.
Cities and states have implemented so-called cannabis equity programs, with mixed results, to address the harm inflicted on black and brown communities. Meanwhile, many industry figures have made equity and diversity cornerstones of their businesses.
C.J. Wallace, the 22-year-old son of the late East Coast rap legend Notorious B.I.G., launched the cannabis company Think BIG in March alongside his business partner Willie Mack and stepfather Todd Russaw. The trio have sought to shed fear and stigma around the plant, they say, pushing consumers to embrace its potential for creativity, healing and criminal-justice reform.
‘We have to figure out ways to fight for justice; to figure out ways to advocate for reinvestment in communities.’
—Willie Mack, co-founder of Think BIG
“We have to figure out ways to fight for justice; to figure out ways to advocate for reinvestment in communities,” Mack, 42, told MarketWatch. “We believe that this industry cannot move forward in a way that’s going to be equitable … unless we address these cultural issues.”