Cannabis and The Black and Brown Community- Hear from Black Business Owners and Employees in the Cannabis/ Marijuana Industry
It was in 1937 that the government decided to wreck our health and freedom with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 (now properly spelled Marijuana Tax Act of 1937); cannabis became taxable. Then, in 1970, cannabis was outlawed with the Controlled Substance Act- also referred to as CSA. This is when the federal government decided that they would control how we treat our medical conditions and the plants that we are allowed to consume.
So, how did we get here? Information from drugpolicy.org states that just after the Mexican revolution, the United States saw an increase in immigration from Mexico. Cannabis came with, as medicine for relaxation, though referred to as “marihuana” (did you catch the tax act in paragraph 1? “Marihuana Tax Act of 1937”).
So, what did the media do?
“ The media began to play on the fears that the public had about these new citizens by falsely spreading claims about the “disruptive Mexicans” with their dangerous native behaviors including marihuana use, the rest of the nation did not know that this “marihuana” was a plant they already had in their medicine cabinets.”- drugpolicy.org-
Cannabis was vilified- though it was medicine, legal, and was proven to heal in the past. The government wanted to control new Americans and also have a reason to search and deport. It started in Texas and became a national movement.
During the hearings in these arrests, things like “marijuana makes men of color violent” and “marijuana makes men of color look for sex from white women” were stated/claimed. This worked in favor of the 1937 Tax Act; and though years later that act was ruled unconstitutional, it didn’t matter because there was, and still is, the Controlled Substance Act- CSA.
Enforcement of cannabis/weed prohibition laws resulted in 600K + arrests in the United States in 2017. The arrests affected people of color the most, who are about 4 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as their white counterparts. It doesn’t matter that the rates of marijuana use have remained equal across races.
Schedule I & Schedule II
In 1970, the federal government declared marijuana more dangerous than cocaine, meth, oxycodone, and fentanyl. A plant, an herb, like tea; a plant with 5000 years of healing proof. According to the government, schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and the potential to create psychological and/or physical dependence (do you notice the decision made off of “potential”?).
From our ridiculous DEA:
Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are:
· Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD),
· Marijuana (cannabis),
· 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy),
Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are:
· Combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin)
· Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
· Meperidine (Demerol)
· Oxycodone (OxyContin)
(I AM CALLING THE SYSTEM B.S! Only a country where the leaders are total evil with an agenda full of f*ckery- would have a plant on a higher schedule than COCAINE! Only a system full of evil doesn’t recognize that plants are medicine. It’s done so that we don’t heal. It’s so that we won’t get closer to self. It’s done to keep us crazed and in misery. It’s done because all of these ugly things- help those at the top.)
Black and Brown Communities- The Impact on Family and Community Due to Prohibition
In an article titled: Marijuana Legalization Is a Racial Justice Issue, published on The ACLU (Americans Civil Liberties Union), by Charlotte Resing, the opening sentence states:
“Marijuana has been a key driver of mass criminalization in this country and hundreds of thousands of people, the majority of whom are Black or Latinx, have their lives impacted by a marijuana arrest each year.”
Did you know that:
· In America, someone is arrested every 25 seconds for drug possession?
· The number of people in the U.S. incarcerated in 2016 totaled 2,205,300 and is the highest incarceration rate in the world?
· One-fifth of the incarcerated population — or 456K individuals — is serving time for a drug charge?
· That black Americans make up nearly 30% of all drug-related arrests, despite accounting for only 12.5% of all substance users?
· Almost 80% of people serving time for a federal drug offense are black or Latino?
· In state prisons, people of color make up 60% of those serving time for drug charges?
· North Carolina, spent more than $70M incarcerating people for drug possession?
· Georgia spent $78.6M just to incarcerate people of color for drug offenses and that it’s 1.6 times more than the state’s budget for substance use treatment services?
· 1 in 9 black children has an incarcerated parent and 1 in 28 Latino children has an incarcerated parent, compared to 1 in 57 Caucasian children?
“The War on Drugs has led to the militarization of police departments across the nation. More specifically, it has led to the increased deployment of military-style tactics for crime control in African American communities, with a correspondently greater potential for death and destruction of property. As these new tactics have become commonplace, the role of police has changed, altering the character of many police departments from law enforcement agencies to military occupation forces.” – racism.org-
The impact after time served for drug related convictions:
· A 2015 report by Human Rights Watch found that deportations for drug possession offenses increased by 43% from 2007 to 2012.
· 1 in 13 black people of voting age are denied the right to vote because felony convictions and voting laws.
· A criminal record reduces the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50%.
· The negative impact of a criminal record is twice as large for African American applicants.
Hear from Black Women and Men in the Cannabis/Weed Industry
It is my privilege to feature some amazing black people- game changers, in the cannabis industry. I am honored to have connected with them and their brands/businesses. They inspire me everyday with their passion, their missions, and their messages.
It was important for me to work on a piece that focused on the injustices our community has faced and still faces, and highlight the beauty of their rise, accomplishments, and success in cannabis. It is not easy to grow in muddy conditions; however, you’ll hear from some lotus flowers below.
You will hear from employees, cannabis consultants/coaches, artists and growers with their own strain lines, and medical doctors.
It is an honor, pleasure, and privilege to introduce you to:
Herb of Life Cultivation, LLC
You are the first black woman with a strain line; what was your journey like to get here?
“Yes, I am the first black woman/ woman to have a strain line. Honestly, that wasn’t my focus. My focus was changing lives and making a difference through educating on the medical benefits of cannabis. I realized that I was the 1st during a visit at Dope Magazine headquarters in Seattle Washington. They brought it to my attention and congratulated me on it. I remember crying. I was 17 years old when I spoke of having my own strain line and now living the reality of it- is truly a blessing and more.”
Can you share information about your strain line; and are people surprised when they learn about what do you?
“I have four strain lines to date and have to give my breeder, Duke of Erb Seeds./ a shout out for creating my lines specifically for me:
· My 1st strain — Flotwckush- was created back in 2016, and is a hybrid Sativa.
· My 2nd strain — Black Girl Magic OG- was created in 2017 and is an Indica hybrid.
· My 3rd strain -December Nights OG- is a hybrid inspired by my godson, Malik Javon, who helped me name it.
· My 4th strain is Shirley Ross OG aka SRG- in dedication of my grandmother. This strain was created in 2019.
Yes, people are very surprised by what I do. Many really admire what I’ve accomplished. It’s nice to see a lot of people congratulate me, or tell me I am their role model and/or inspiration. I always get “thank you for opening that for us.”
What is the mission behind your business and what are you hoping to accomplish within the next 3 years?
“The mission behind my business is changing lives and saving lives one at a time. Educating as many people around the world on the medicinal benefits of cannabis. To teach people how to start their own home gardening, with natural fruits and veggies, along long with cannabis if their state allows. In the next 3 years- I pray that we touch millions of lives and make a huge difference.”
The New York Times published a piece discussing black lawmakers blocking legalization in New York if their communities don’t benefit from legalization. In the piece, they discussed Oakland, CA program where ½ of the licenses issued must go to people with cannabis convictions; what are your thoughts on this program?
“I love what they are doing in my home town- Oakland, CA, and I think it’s a good program. A program that addresses the disproportionate impact of cannabis, related law enforcement, and we can’t forget the war on drugs on center communities. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland are definitely making change as far as the Equity Program in cannabis. I hope to see more cities and states have the equity program. Shout out to New Life CA who I worked to bring Black Girl Magic OG to Bay area market. Shout out to Blunts and Moore, who are also a part of the Cannabis industry.”
Smoke & Grow Rich Tours
You help start-up businesses in cannabis and hemp, and also offer cannabis education tours; can you provide more insight into what you do?
“We are an educational consulting company designed to help minority business owners enter into the cannabis space. Our goal is to help minorities, by providing them access to industry professionals, consultants, and distribution channels in the cannabis (marijuana and CBD) space. We also partner with influencers to help brands expand their reach to the urban millennial demographic. We do this by hosting educational tours to grow facilities, dispensaries, hemp farms, and processing labs throughout the country. We also provide access to platforms (Facebook Group: Black Hemp Growers 2020 and Smoke & Grow Rich Gold Membership Club) for brands and entrepreneurs looking to market their services and products.”
What are your thoughts on prohibition?
“We believe in the legalization of marijuana on a federal level and will actively advocate for full expungement of records and vacated sentencing for individuals who have been convicted and displaced due to marijuana-related offenses.”
Do you believe that programs should be developed to assist the communities most impacted by cannabis laws?
“Yes, we definitely believe that there should be a social equity program in every state. We believe minorities should have assistance in buying licenses and should not be kept out of the game because of economic disparities.
This is one of the reasons we came up with the Smoke & Grow Rich Tour. We help minorities navigate the new and upcoming cannabis market by showing them how to overcome barriers to entry. Most minorities cannot afford to start a dispensary but they can raise enough capital to start a small 1–5-acre hemp farm.
There are so many ways for minorities to enter this market. There will be a need for marketing agencies that understand how to brand and sell hemp products, a need for hemp testing facilities, and a need for processing facilities, commercial warehouse space, security, delivery services and more.”
Given the history of the war on drugs, what does working in the cannabis industry mean to you?
“Working in the cannabis industry creates an opportunity to get paid on something that was used to disenfranchise and criminalize black males. Also, it provides new opportunities for a new generation of entrepreneurs to become successful.”
Higher Level Healthcare
You’re a M.D. that works in the medicinal cannabis space, can you share insight into your mission at Higher Level Healthcare?
“Higher Level Healthcare is a medical cannabis clinic with a mission to promote change in the current healthcare model, by introducing safe natural alternatives to treat illnesses and long-term medical conditions. As a board-certified medicine physician, I provide access to medical cannabis, particularly to those in communities affected by the war on drugs.
Currently there is only one dispensary in what is considered the far south side of Chicago, and very few healthcare providers that are willing to certify patients in the community. This causes most patients to travel up to 10–15 miles outside of their neighborhoods to gain access to a provider that is knowledgeable about medical cannabis, and the process of using it to treat conditions.”
Can you share why you support cannabis for medicine?
“Initially in my practice, as a primary care physician for a large corporation in an underserved community, I was not a supporter of cannabis. I believed all the stereotypes regarding cannabis use and was not informed of its health benefits.
But after a few patients began to ask about cannabis as medicine, I realized that it would be beneficial for me to try to learn as much as I could about the plant. Once I began to read anecdotal evidence about the benefits, I began to advocate for all forms of cannabis in my practice.
Additionally, in black and brown communities there was and still is very little access to providers who are willing to explore cannabis use with patients, but will easily prescribe other narcotics or opioids as a “solution” to the problem.
As a person that was directly impacted by the war on drugs with an incarcerated parent, I felt that I would be remiss to not support my community in gaining access by performing certification examinations for medical cannabis cards, and also educating people on how cannabis can improve their lives.”
The New York Times published a piece discussing black lawmakers blocking legalization in New York if their communities don’t benefit from legalization. In the piece, they discussed how licenses were banned in Colorado due to cannabis related convictions- what are your thoughts on this?
“I believe this is an important piece of the puzzle. There cannot be cannabis legalization without investment in communities, not just minorities, but African-Americans- not only having a seat at the table, but at the head of the table.
There’s a need to be owners of businesses that can help our community create wealth. I am hopeful that our lawmakers, legislators, and community advocates will continue to apply pressure to the government (on all levels) to ensure that equity is provided and systemic barriers to inequality are removed and repaired.”
What is your hope for the future of cannabis in America?
“My hope for the future of cannabis is that we see more African-Americans involved in the cannabis industry. That our community is positively impacted and invested in by funds created by cannabis. I also hope to see more medical professionals become informed and in support of cannabis use, and provide patients with guidance on use of the plant as medicine or recreationally as we have come to do with alcohol. Information is going to be key in this new “green rush” that we are experiencing.”
Black Joy Consulting
Nevada: www.theblackjoyclub.com / @1Blackabis on Twitter, IG, and Facebook
Please tell me about your business and mission, and anything that we should be on the lookout for?
“Black Joy Consulting is a consulting company focused on bridging the cannabis business gap of those disproportionate minorities that were negatively affected by the war on drugs, through social impact, policy, and grass roots organizing.”
How do you feel about the current state of legalization in the U.S?
“Once again the nation is showing its inability to be equal in opportunities and/or apologetic for its crime against people of color.
Sometimes I feel angry because I expect and want better policy for my people. Other times, I’m inspired by the innovation and tenacity of my people. I watch as my African diaspora family creatively makes room for themselves whether policy is in place or not!
We are unwilling to be defeated or to be victims of an industry whose policies clearly aren’t in favor of people of color”.
Have you been impacted by prohibition- directly and or indirectly?
“I’m an advocate for the African diaspora and I also participate in the cannabis industry, and I feel I’m always being directly impacted by prohibition. Every time cannabis policy is written in a state that doesn’t offer a range of economic business opportunities; I’m impacted.
Each state looks to the other states policy on how to structure their own policy. If all of the states only offer corporate business models, then EACH state is impacted- therefore, I am.”
What would you like to see from decision makers regarding legalization of cannabis?
“In my opinion, equality in the cannabis industry is simple to achieve. Policy makers should offer a few cannabis business models, i.e. small or micro business models/opportunities for cannabis business incubators and/or municipalities partnered businesses.
Structuring statutes to monitor seed to sale doesn’t mean exclusivity and I don’t subscribe to the notion of, those with money have more to lose. I believe good policy and monitoring of policy holds business people accountable.
If the states really want to eliminate illicit businesses, they will develop policy that includes making those businesses legal.”
Jhae Clark, Communications Manager- Loudpack
California: https://www.loudpack.com/ / Social Media: @loudpack, @dimebagco, @kingpen, @Honeypotproducts, @lift_ticket_laboratory
You are a Communications Manager in the cannabis industry, how hard /easy was it to get into the industry?
“I cannot say that it was ‘hard’ to get into the cannabis industry. I applied for my original position, of Executive Assistant to the General Manager, on Indeed. When I applied for the position, I never thought I would hear back. I didn’t think they would hire me without any previous cannabis experience.
When the recruiter reached out to me, he asked me to write a letter explaining why I would be a good fit for the role. It was not until I started writing that letter that I believed I was a good fit for the role and could bring diverse wisdom to this industry. Once I confirmed the interview, I was my own worst enemy. I almost convinced myself not to go to the interview because I wasn’t qualified enough, because the location was far from home, because this industry isn’t ready for someone like me yet.
Now I work for Loudpack, one of the leading privately held, vertically integrated cannabis companies in California. We are on a mission to forge the most creative, influential, and commercially successful cannabis brands in North American.
So, when you ask how hard it was, the actual task of applying and getting an interview wasn’t hard at all, but the act of believing in myself to take the risk and go for it- that was the real challenge.”
What do you love most about working in this industry?
“While we have a long way to go on federal legalization, prison reform, regulatory reform, and the general diversity and equality within the industry, it is very challenging, rewarding, and exciting. I love this industry and I am so happy to be a part of it.
This is the only industry that has a lot of room for discovery and innovation. I love that. I love the opportunity to learn and grow both literally and metaphorically. Cannabis is not an industry that you want to join if you are uncomfortable with change.
In an industry so new, there has to be room for error, and everyone has to operate with an open mind in order to be solution oriented. We all come into the industry with our individual expertise and history, but the magic will not happen until you combine everyone’s input. I love the power of diversity.”
The New York Times published a piece discussing black lawmakers blocking legalization in New York if their communities don’t benefit from legalization. What are your thoughts on this, and do you believe there is a happy medium?
“I don’t think that there is a specific right or wrong answer to balancing the scales. This is a very unique situation and opportunity. If people are paying attention, then they know that the war on drugs disproportionately affected the black community.
Is the answer to block legalization until there is an agreement made to attempt to balance the scales, or to push for legalization and attempt to balance the scales on the back end? I do not know.
What I do know is, those who are attempting to balance the scales with the intent to repair a damaged community, from an unjust prohibition; those people are necessary to the movement. We have to continue to work together, relentlessly, in order to achieve any solution. We have to be less critical of the solutions offered and be more willing to share our own.”
What does working in this industry mean to you, given the past and present state of legalization?
The prohibition of cannabis created negative connotations of the cannabis plant and an even more negative idea of cannabis consumers. This happened all while contributing to the wealth gap between cultures, destroying the idea of family in the black community, and even, making patients who are victim of very uncomfortable illnesses have to choose between doctor prescribed medications, with many side effects, or sneak around for plant derived relief under threat of legal action.
This is such a multi depth issue/industry that comes with a lot of opportunity to present revolutionary solutions for equality, diversity, healthcare, entertainment, design, and so much more.
I enjoy educating people on the innumerable capabilities of cannabis and breaking the stereotype of the typical cannabis consumer. I am so happy to be a part of the innovation that is taking place here and I can’t wait to see what the cannabis industry will do next.”
Craft Cannabis Culture
Canada: www. www.JBZMUSIC.com / Social Media: @Homersbrewery, @craftcannculture
Please tell me about your business and goal in the cannabis space.
“I’ve been making music for radio and television video channels for many years. I’ve been on multiple national tours and have multiple video award nominations.
Then got into the beer business through some affiliates in the industry already. After a successful few years of the beer industry, legalization of cannabis in Canada actually went through! I tried to get a dispensary retail license but, there’s still a lot of red tape and limitations from the government so, I decided to wait a while for some of the laws to change and make it an easier- more efficient process. While waiting on new laws for cannabis to take effect, I bumped into a longtime friend who said he had been a VP of operations for one of the biggest LP’s- already selling to the government for dispensary retail locations etc.
I set up a meeting with the brewery that makes my beer- Homer’s Premium Lager, and we discussed the possibility of teaming up for Ontario’s potentially first CBD beer! All the zoning and licensing were in place prior to the meeting- things went really well!
The companies are now initiating the planning, while waiting for the government to announce the green light for sales of consumable cannabis in beverages etc. I also advocate for the sale of Craft Cannabis to the OCS, and other retail avenues for selling medicinal cannabis to patients across Canada. My goal is to have the same rules that are in place for the craft beer market, to be in place for the craft cannabis market.”
How do you feel about legalization; are there obstacles you still face even with government legalization?
“Legalization is amazing and makes things very interesting in Canada. Everyone can grow and smoke when they want now. No real obstacles other than smoking and driving.”
Why are you passionate about cannabis?
“I’m passionate about cannabis because it has always been a part of my life and helped me during lot of stressful times. I’ve seen it help a lot of people and I love being a part of anything that can help people.”
What could be better for people of color in Canada- in the cannabis business space?
“Nothing- it’s an equal playing field for the most part. Only color that matters is that good ok green- money that is! But we’re in Canada so, it’s more like brown, red, green, purple, and blue! As I mentioned- my good friend is VP of operations in a big grow production company and he’s black.”
I scream: “Cannabis is an industry! Open up the jail gates!”
Our government must make the issues right- fix the wrongs. Without full legalization and expungement of records- people are losing jobs, do not have access to the medicine from this beautiful plant, and cannot enter into the cannabis industry in many states due to cannabis related convictions.
With the help of the amazing cannabis community and people/businesses like the ones featured above, my hope is that stigmas, bias, prejudice, etc. will be removed and no longer associated with a plant that heals, creates jobs, and can potentially be the one thing that cures everything (is the real reason it is federally prohibited?).