It seems that the fight for cannabis has always been a revolutionary one. The constant struggle against the system to legalize weed has been fought by advocates and activists. This may be the reason why many people associate activism and social justice with cannabis. Unfortunately, the cannabis market does not reflect these ideas. In fact, a recent study conducted by MJBizDaily highlights the way the cannabis industry lacks women and minority representation.
The study explores multiple parts of the cannabis market. Many of these aspects reflect the notion of a lack of representation of marginalized groups. For example, ownership of cannabis businesses as well as executive positions in cannabis companies.
Cannabis Industry Lacks Minority Representation
MJBizDaily’s study illustrates the disparity between white-owned and minority-owned businesses. The study contains multiple charts that help the reader understand the large imbalance.
Specifically, Chart 1.05 shows cannabis businesses owned by minorities in select states. The states observed in this chart are Colorado, Michigan, and Nevada. The groups that have the least percentage are Indigenous, African Americans, and those who fall under more than one category.
Asian Americans and Latinos have a slightly higher percentage. Regardless, it’s very little compared to white-owned businesses.
Here’s a breakdown of the chart:
- Asian American / Pacific Islander
- Colorado: 4%
- Michigan: 3.8%
- Nevada: 6.3%
- Black or African American
- Colorado: 2.7%
- Michigan: 3.8%
- Nevada: 5.1%
- Colorado: 0.4%
- Michigan: 0.8%
- Nevada: 2.5%
- Colorado: 7.7%
- Michigan: 1.5%
- Nevada: 12.8%
- More than one Category
- Colorado: 1.5%
- Michigan: 0
- Nevada: 6.3%
- White / Caucasian
- Colorado: 83.7%
- Michigan: 79%
- Nevada: 63%
A big reason as to why we’re seeing such a large disparity in businesses may be discrimination. Usually, it’s more difficult for minorities to take out a business loan. This can make it very hard for those who wish to pursue licensing and are competing against those who are wealthy.
Cannabis Industry Lacks Women Representation
As for women, it can be equally as hard. Women of color must face double the difficulty when working to build their own businesses. Not only can they face discrimination because of their race, but they must also endure discrimination from males in the industry because of their gender.
For example, women in Nevada only own 25% of cannabis businesses. This is one of the highest rates. On the other hand, in states like Massachusetts with the lowest rates, women own 5%.
Women have such low rates of representation in the cannabis industry due to many reasons. First, lack of capital to start a business endeavor. Businesses require a large amount of money when first starting off, and many women have trouble securing that money. Second, they face gender discrimination. As previously mentioned, women of color must also face double the discrimination. If they are judged and discriminated against by potential investors, then how can they secure the money needed to start a cannabis business?
Third, white males have the highest share of capital, yet are reluctant to invest in women businesses. According to Forbes, “white men control 93% of the venture capital dollars.” More often than not, these white males prefer to invest in other men, rather than in women-driven businesses.
What’s being done to address this problem?
In some states where cannabis is legal, there are steps being taken to ensure equality and equity throughout the cannabis industry. For example, Sacramento initiated the Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment and Equity Program (CORE). This program was created to help establish delivery and cultivation businesses in Sacramento.
More specifically, it’s part of an ongoing effort to help create some diversity and equality within the cannabis industry. The program helps those from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as addresses the negative impact of the war on drugs.
Additionally, there are many organizations that work to help marginalized groups earn a place within the cannabis industry. For example, the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) is a non-profit organization created to increase diversity in owners, employees, and consumers. Based in Oregon, they work diligently to create equal access for cannabis businesses and promote economic empowerment for communities of color.
What can you do?
You may be wondering what you can do to help create more diversity and representation in the cannabis industry. As a customer and consumer, you hold a lot of power. Next time you’re shopping for some greenery, try looking for products that are POC or Women-owned.
By shopping with them, it shows that customers want to buy what they offer. In the long run, this can help them secure loans or create space for more POC or Women-owned businesses.
Other ways you can help are:
- Listen to POC and Women Cannabis Experts
- Learn about other cannabis perspectives
- Support ethical cannabis research