Friday, April 24, 2015

Why Black People Are Not Profiting from $2.7 Billion Marijuana Industry

By Evette D. Champion
It is no secret that marijuana is becoming a very lucrative legal business. In fact, it is considered to be the fastest-growing industry in the United States, worth about $2.7 billion in total. With that said, if you look at the business aspect of marijuana, you will not see many African-Americans involved. NBC hosted a series called NBCBLK where they shed some light on why that may be.
One of the primary reasons is the lack of connections and money. In order to start a cannabis business, you must first apply and pay for a license before you can sell the herb, and some states also requires you to have an account with $1 million in it to act as a performance bond. Then, you obviously need money to actually begin your business. Unfortunately, many Black entrepreneurs find it very difficult to encounter a bank that will grant them a loan to start any business.
Because this is a long and drawn out process, it is helpful to have experience applying for government-issued licenses and working with government regulators. This is one area where it would be in your best interest to have good legal representation or a local politician to help you.
The second reason that Blacks are not taking advantage of the marijuana business is that it is very difficult to get a cannabis license if you have a misdemeanor or any drug-related charges on your record. Many states will not even allow you to apply.
“We at the Drug Policy Alliance have been pushing back against provisions that prevent people with previous criminal records as it relates to marijuana from participating in the space,” the Drug Policy Alliance policy manager, Dr. Malik Burnett, said. “It’s particularly invasive given fact that enforcement of marijuana laws have historically been biased against people of color.”
Criminal history aside, another a big reason Blacks may not participate in the cannabis business is location. Marijuana is only grown in locations where it has been legalized. Statistically, these locations tend to have a smaller Black population, and in these communities, you would be hard pressed to find many supporters. There are not many Black churches and community leaders that would welcome cannabis shops setting up in their neck of the woods.
Finally, there is a sordid history between drugs and the Black community. In a recent statement, Ethan Nadelmann from the Drug Policy Alliance stated. “Because Black and brown people have historically been more likely to be fined or arrested on drug charges, there may be a hesitation for Black entrepreneurs to try to enter the industry.”
He continues, “African Americans know that whenever something is in a gray area of the law they will feel more vulnerable, and for good reason since statistically minorities are more likely to be targeted or seen as suspects. It may be that the general element of racism and racial disproportionately in law enforcement around drugs can make minorities queasy about entering an area which is not fully legal.”

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