This Black History Month, we are opening up a conversation about black hemp farmers. You hear us talk about farmers often. They make this company what it is; our success rests on those who nurture and care for the plants from which we derive Charlotte’s Web products. But we haven’t often talked about the inequities between black and white cannabis farmers. And it’s about time.
Hemp is a mighty plant with a strong, vibrant history dating back to the backbone of our nation. And as with most crops in our agrarian history, the more popular the crop, the more it was grown—on larger and larger fields—and the larger the fields, the more people needed to work the crops. And those people were slaves.
We do not mention slavery casually, on the contrary we are speaking intentionally about the intertwined history of hemp and those who farmed it. We want to honor those whose work brought this crop to prominence, and we acknowledge that it may not have been their choice. This plant provides a searing reminder of how slavery was an engine that propelled not only the birth and success of our country but also the spread of English colonialism, as the English Monarchy relied on hemp production in the colonies to sustain the British Navy with ropes and sails.
And today? As it stands, cannabis farmers are overwhelmingly white, 96% in fact, and systemic racism by a major government institution has been well documented; which all makes for an industry in need of some accountability before it repeats a past that was designed to edge out black farmers.
So, what does Charlotte’s Web plan to do about it? We are currently working with several organizations on policy initiatives to help right the wrongs of the past and ensure a more just future. On a grassroots-level, we are partnering with black farmers, supporting their work with our resources, as well as using our platform to help amplify their voices. And internally, we keep a scorecard on the commitments we made to black lives in 2020. Not just this month, but every month, we’re aware of the work we’ve vowed to do, the areas where we’re fulfilling our vows, and areas where we’re falling behind.
Stay tuned for upcoming partnership announcements!