cannabis economic gap
cannabis economic gap

Can Cannabis Narrow the Economic Gap for African-Americans?

Will SE and EE applicants help close the economic gap in the US?

Posted by:
Joseph Billions on Monday Dec 30, 2019

Can Cannabis Narrow the Economic Gap for African-Americans?

african americans in cannabis

The effects of slavery on the African American populace can never be overemphasized. It is an undeniable fact that blacks have had to live with discrimination for the past four centuries. The average African American has been forced to either accept a life of mediocrity or learn to survive in an unequal system. The bias against African Americans is widespread across almost all major industries, fair opportunities are not offered, for an average African American, the odds are stacked against you from the start. Although times are changing and this terrible act of discrimination isn't as bad as it used to it still exists in most industries which brings me to the aim of this article. Is the cannabis industry the answer? Will the industry offer fair opportunities across the board to finally close the economic gap amongst us.


Blacks and Cannabis: A complicated relationship

It is an obvious truth that the cannabis industry is a goldmine but are there equal opportunities offered to the average citizen to partake in this? Is the playing field fair and transparent for all to be part of it? These are vital questions that need to be fully addressed if we are to move forward. The history of the cannabis industry so far shows that it just might be the answer to the African American community's prayers if everything falls into place. Currently, several barriers stand in the way of the cannabis industry bridging this economic divide and chief among them is the tricky legal status of cannabis.

Cannabis was effectively banned by the marijuana tax act of 1937 and ever since a negative shadow has been cast on the industry, and even though the law's grip on the industry has been loosened by recent developments a lot of people are still been oppressed.

A survey conducted recently came to the conclusion that an African American is 4 times more likely to be incarcerated for cannabis use or possession than a white person, a very disgraceful fact that shouldn't be heard of in this day and age. On its own this seems small but when you consider the fact that any criminal conviction actively prevents you from running a cannabis business you see the big picture. The majority of the African American population have a felony conviction history and a huge number of individuals in this category are either people who don't deserve it or are trying to find their way back but with barriers like this how is that going to be a reality.

Asides the steep impediment the law poses to the average African  American there are other factors that also serve as barriers, a couple of them include:

Funding - This is a significant barrier in the way of all entrepreneurs. Starting a cannabis business requires sufficient funds to get it off the ground but sadly this isn't an easy task. And the refusal of bank institutions to give loans to cannabis businesses makes it even harder. I'm optimistic that the industry will get to the point where banks are confident enough to give loans to cannabis entrepreneurs but sadly we're not there yet. The way it is right now in the cannabis industry if you aren't independently rich enough to fund your business your only other option is private investments. And private investors are not obliged to offer fair and equal opportunities to all genders or race they can spend their money however they see fit and given the history of the African American community it's not unrealistic to say that an average black person is less likely to receive private investment than their white counterparts.

License - Another factor that stands in the way of African Americans hoping to get involved in the cannabis industry is licensing. It's not new information that a license is needed before you can run a cannabis business. If you're to stay on the right side of the law you have to be fully licensed before beginning your operations. Where the problem lies is that licenses are not easy to secure, entrepreneurs often need political access and relationships with the right people to ensure they scale through, and if you think this sounds hard now, add the exorbitant fees required to obtain these licenses to the mix then imagine what cannapreneurs go through.

Population distribution - Another barrier that African Americans face is population distribution. The majority of states where weed is legal have a ridiculously low number of black people meanwhile states like Georgia where not even medical cannabis is legal have high numbers.

The factors listed above are a couple of the barriers that stand in the way of black cannapreneurs hoping to enjoy the blessings of the cannabis industry. And while it's still too early to tell the direction the industry will follow going forward the early signs show that if tangible solutions are put in place to eliminate or at least reduce the impeding factors that face the African American population the cannabis industry just might be the messiah the black populace have been waiting for.


What does the future hold for  African-Americans in the cannabis  industry

Currently, surveys show that although African Americans make up over 15% of the population only about 3% are cannabis business owners. This wide disparity is so because the system doesn't offer the same opportunities across the board. There is hope this won't continue to be the case if the right decisions are made by those in positions of power. And a good place to start will be making reforms to the felony conviction law. Eradicating that restriction will rejuvenate the entire industry opening up the industry to more entrepreneurs from all races to enjoy equal opportunities.

 It will also go a long way if private investors learn to believe in non-white cannabis business owners. Without a doubt, equal investment opportunities will even up the playing field and allow entrepreneurs from all race be a part of the cannabis industry. Funding is a crucial part of any business and until the problem of money is solved it's hard to envisage a future for the average African American in the corporate world.


Bottom line

The cannabis industry is definitely equipped with what it takes to close the economic divide for African Americans but it remains yet to be seen if that will be the case. Although it's comforting news to know that steps are being taken to help make the situation better. An example of this is the equity programs currently offered in some states. And the main goal of these programs is to ensure people of color get their fair chance to succeed in the cannabis industry. The road to closing the economic divide that plagues the United States will undoubtedly be a long one but hopefully, with cannabis, we're closer to equality.








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