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Like protesters around the U.S. who seek to address issues raised by the death of George Floyd and other instances of police violence, the cannabis industry has taken action to promote social equity and business opportunities in the sector.
Below, Marijuana Business Daily offers a sampling of organizations and efforts that support, foster and enhance social equity in the cannabis industry, opportunities for minorities, overall diversity and racial justice – as well as other issues facing marijuana businesses.
Drug laws meant to target Black people
If you’re reading this, you may be a white American who, like me, has many times broken the law to enjoy marijuana. That privilege was given to us by an American legal system stacked in our favor.
Where marijuana is illegal, cops use it as a pretext to stop and harass Black people. Or kill them. Meanwhile, white consumers often get a free pass. Nationwide, Black people are four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than white people—even though usage rates are roughly equal.
If 2019 was a tough year for the cannabis industry, 2020 could be downright catastrophic. However, as bad as things look today, the industry may get stronger as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Whether it's changes to how people view cannabis or to there just being a smaller playing field, there are some subtle and significant changes that could make the industry look a whole lot different in a year or two.
Here are three ways the marijuana industry may actually get stronger as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
1. More patients turning to cannabis
Many states have declared cannabis companies “essential businesses” during the COVID-19 pandemic and allowed them to maintain operations, but the U.S. Congress and President Donald Trump don’t appear to see the industry as fundamental.
They have barred state-legal marijuana businesses and most ancillary cannabis companies from receiving grants or low-interest loans through the newly enacted $2 trillion federal stimulus package and related bills.
In its lame duck session, the New Jersey state legislature has an important vote regarding whether to allow the question of adult cannabis use on the November 2020 ballot and from what I learned this past week, not only is much of the nation watching, but at least one of our neighboring states may have some hidden hopes that the legislation will fail and no referendum will be allowed.
Traditional drug dealers are still formidable competitors in U.S. states where cannabis is legal. Governments planning for huge tax windfalls and investors expecting rapid market-share gains have to adjust to a slower burn.
Talk to anyone in and out of the marijuana business and the primary issue preventing its growth is the stigma associated with cannabis.
It affects everything from its status as a Schedule 1 substance, a prohibited drug on the federal level, and the image of those in the highly regulated industry, to the public’s perception of the plant and how municipalities deal with industry businesses.