Let’s be clear: while the businessmen and women of today’s cannabis industry continue to innovate and make a profit, the businessmen and women of yesterday’s cannabis industry spend their days in prison. During the War on Drugs, 84% of individuals who were charged with a marijuana law violation were arrested for possession only—something that is now medically legal across 33 states—and yet we have no idea how many remain in jail today.
In particular, this continual War on Drugs systematically targets people of color. While people of all races consume cannabis at similar rates, black people are four times more likely than white people to be arrested for cannabis possession.
We here at Molly Jones preach all day about the healing magic of the cannabis plant, and that very much includes the inclusive nature of consuming it. Afterall, the phrase “puff puff pass” isn’t just a cheeky meme—it reflects a deeper tradition of sharing the plant with others regardless of race, social standing, or economic status.
We believe that in order to move forward, we have to address the past. If we want to make cannabis accessible for all, we must understand that by putting large percentages of communities behind bars and letting other communities move forward in their absence, we’ve created two monumental issues as it relates to equity in the cannabis space.
- People remain in prison for something that is now legal. We can’t keep them locked up while we freely do exactly what they were doing.
- People of color and women are getting edged out of the industry by predominantly white male entrepreneurs. As of now, only 17% of cannabis businesses are owned by people of color or women.
To help make cannabis accessible for all, the first step is to educate yourself on where things stand today. We suggest the following:
- READ this article on the history of the War on Drugs and its harmful long-lasting impacts on people of color.
- LISTEN to season three of the Serial podcast which details the inner workings of the criminal justice system and shows how cannabis is often used against people of color in criminal charges and court proceedings.
- WATCH Grass is Greener, a documentary about cannabis’ jazz roots, the war on drugs, and racial injustice.
We hope that once you learn more you’ll be inclined to shop from women and black owned cannabis providers. To find a list of brands and businesses near you, check out the Minority Cannabis Business Association.
Lastly, you may want to consider supporting some incredible organizations working to move the industry in the right direction including:
- NORML: As the oldest and largest marijuana legalization organization in the country, NORML lobbies to reform state and federal marijuana laws, fights to offset the anti-marijuana propaganda from the government, and provides legal assistance and support to victims of the current laws.
- Cage-free cannabis: They helped launch the first-ever National Expungement Week—a week of events across the U.S. that offers expungement and other forms of legal relief to some of the 77 million Americans with criminal records.
- Equity First. Made up mostly of women of color who have been impacted by the War on Drugs, Equity First advocates for communities impacted by cannabis prohibition through Social Equity Programs, tracking arrests, and criminal justice and policing reform.
As an evergreen statement, we’re always learning so if you know of any resources or organizations that are helping to make cannabis accessible to all, please let us know so that we can show our support as well.