Why We Feel Compelled To Share Our Thoughts on Black History Month
We’ve often said to each other, “If we were born to different parents, we’d most likely have been in jail.” As entrepreneurs in both the cannabis and hemp industries, we were often operating at the murky edges of an ever-evolving legal landscape, but even in our early years, it was patently obvious that this was a system set up to benefit some, not all — and especially not people of color.
When we think about the other cannabis farmers and entrepreneurs during Black History Month, there are questions we ask ourselves: would our first investors have taken the chance on us if we were black? Would states have invited us to speak to their legislatures and write laws with them?
And this is a sad truth that exists to this day. United States law enforcement spends $3.7 billion annually on policing the use of a plant. And it’s not just the cost that should raise eyebrows, but the fact that people of color are disproportionately targeted for those arrests at a rate 3.64 times more so than whites. This leads to loss of jobs, broken homes, housing instability and future difficulty re-integrating to society with a felony conviction.
While we celebrate and embrace the return of this mighty and resourceful plant within our economy and society, we cannot ignore the grave inequities that persist. While black people are disproportionately arrested and convicted of cannabis-related drug offenses, white people are gaining entry to licenses, bank loans and often have easier access to most information needed to get started.
Upon legalizing the growth and sale of this crop, many state regulations prohibit those with drug-related felonies from receiving to licenses grow cannabis. Which, yes, strikes us as ironic as well.
So, while we’ve taken time to reflect on Black History this month, we’re talking about Black futures too. We are currently working with several organizations to help right the wrongs of the past and ensure a more just future: to guarantee that as more states embrace hemp and cannabis, they do so through a lens of racial justice and equality. So that Black futures don’t suffer the same injustices as Black history.
We look forward to announcing some meaningful partnerships in the coming months and continuing this work year-round.