Pubdate: Thu, 14 Apr 2016
Source: Sacramento News & Review (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.
Author: Ngaio Bealum


"Whiter than a Wonder Bread-and-mayonnaise-sandwich served with a 
side of whole milk."

How white is the green rush? Extremely white. Ridiculously white. 
Whiter than a Wonder Bread-and-mayonnaise sandwich served with a side 
of whole milk. Whiter than new teeth. Whiter than the Gods of Egypt 
movie. Hella white.

And I'm not alone in thinking this. Consider Michelle Alexander, 
author of The New Jim Crow: "Here are white men poised to run big 
marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big-big money, big 
businesses selling weed-after 40 years of impoverished black kids 
getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures 
destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely 
the same thing?" Exactly.

Then there's a recent Buzzfeed article, which reported that blacks 
own just 1 percent of all of the cannabis dispensaries in the United 
States. 1. Percent.

This number is shocking-and more than a little bit offensive. The 
cannabis industry must work to create more opportunities for people of color.

How? I am glad you asked. There are a few things already happening. 
The Minority Cannabis Business Association (, 
I'm on the board) has been working to expand opportunities for women 
and people of color. The National Cannabis Industry Association has 
started an "Inclusion Initiative" 
to "work with under-represented groups and individuals, who seek 
access to join or expand their reach within the legal cannabis 
industry in the United States of America." Fancy words, and I hope 
they create a great program.

I would like to see cannabis business conferences offer low-cost or 
no-cost entry to women and POC. These conferences often cost hundreds 
of dollars to attend, creating yet another barrier to networking and 
creating business relationships. The state isn't doing much to help, 
either. California's new Medical Marijuana Safety and Regulation Act, 
or MMRSA, is set up so that individuals with felony convictions for 
the sale, possession for sale, manufacture, transportation or 
cultivation of a controlled substance can be denied licenses by the 
state to distribute medical cannabis. (Unless you are pot activist 
Steve DeAngelo.)

This part of the law is a tad ironic, seeing as California passed a 
"Ban the Box" law that restricts employers from asking prospective 
employees about past convictions two years ago.

MMRSA does allow for people to maybe get a permit, after they have 
jumped through a bunch of extra administrative hoops. But why should 
people have to do more work-and spend more time and money-simply 
because they were targeted by an unfair law? MMRSA automatically puts 
some people that would be great at running a cannabis-based business 
at an immediate disadvantage.

Dr. Amanda Reiman, manager of marijuana law and policy at the Drug 
Policy Alliance, told this writer that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act 
initiative, likely on November's ballot, has no restrictions on 
nonviolent drug felons, and would designate up to $50 million per 
year toward job training and community redevelopment. She also told 
me that Oakland insists that 50 percent of all dispensary employees 
live in the city, and they offer incentives for clubs to hire people 
from census tracts that have been most affected by the war on drugs. 
The Oak Park gentrification project needs to get a program like this 
in place ASAP.

If the goal of the cannabis-legalization movement is to end the black 
market and provide jobs and tax revenue, then there needs to be a 
concerted effort to make sure that everyone has access to the tools 
and programs that will put them in a position to be successful. This 
is not just the right thing to do; studies also show that culturally 
diverse businesses make more money.

Like Steve DeAngelo says: Diversity shouldn't be seen as an 
obligation. It should be seen as a strength.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom