It's well known that the War on Drugs has racist origins. Well, now that drug prohibition is coming to an end, it's high time the cannabis industry became more equitable.
It's no secret that most of the world is firmly in the green rush, vying to get a slice of the $344 billion Mary Jane pie that is the global cannabis market. And while dispensaries and other CBD-related businesses continue to pop up faster than many can light up, social and racial inequality are still just as rampant in what remains a typically white-dominated industry.
A 2017 study by Marijuana Business Daily found that 81 per cent of marijuana business owners were white, with only 4.3 per cent and 5.7 per cent identifying as African-American and Hispanic/Latino respectively. Despite the fact that the War on Drugs finally seems to be grinding to a halt, these racist undertones still continue to dominate much of the industry.
The ACLU reports that people of colour are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana-related offenses, despite having roughly equal usage rates. In disadvantaged areas, these stats can be even higher – in Iowa, D.C., Minnesota and Illinois, black people were up to 8.6 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession.
And with recent Black Lives Matter protests bringing global attention to racial equality, now has never been a better time to support, and continue supporting black-owned CBD, marijuana and hemp businesses.
Simply Pure, Denver Founded in 2010 by military veterans Wanda James and Scott Durah, Simply Pure was the first black-owned dispensary in Denver .
Simply Pure initially begun as a successful edible company that offered a healthier alternative to the sugar-laced brownies usually occupying the market.
Now, they've transcended into a social justice dispensary that focuses on equity and criminal justice reform in the industry.
For James, focusing on reform in the justice system also has a personal edge – in the 90s, her 17-year brother was sentenced to 10 years in prison for possession of 4.5 ounces of cannabis.
It's an experience that has made her a passionate advocate for black rights, and her previous career highlights not only include serving as a lieutenant in the Navy, but also as a political advisor to the Obama administration. As a result, James was named one of the 35 most influential women in cannabis in 2020.
Simply Pure now not only functions as a dispensary, but also as a successful grow operation. The husband and wife team run a small-batch farm that was awarded Best Flavour Champion in The Grow Off Competition in Colorado in 2018.
Operating both online and a brick-and-mortar store in downtown Denver, Simply Pure sells flowers, concentrates and vegan edibles, while also offering topical products such as patches and balms.
As military veterans themselves, owners James and Durah also place an emphasis on looking after veteran patients.
Launched just prior to the coronavirus shutdowns (and thus forced to close a mere two weeks after launching), Pure Oasis is a new kid on the cannabis block – particularly in its home of Boston, as the first black-owned dispensary in the state of Massachusetts.
As suggested, co-founders Kobie Evans and Kevin Hart haven't been without their share of hardships.
Reported in the Boston Globe, the Pure Oasis dispensary was additionally looted in police brutality protests on May 30. More than a dozen thieves made off with $100,000 worth of stock, including 2000 pre-rolled joints and 2000 containers of bud.
If there's a business to support – perhaps this should be it. Pure Oasis sells marijuana flowers, concentrates, edibles and beverages, as well as topical creams and lotions.
As a participant in the Cannabis Control Commission's "economic empowerment" program, Pure Oasis also employs people with previous drug convictions and is passionate about criminal reform in disadvantaged communities.
In 2018, at an overflowing room at the California Cannabis Business Conference, Chaney Turner stood from her chair, her voice struggling to be heard amongst the marijuana rights activists proclaiming inspirational speeches.
A proud black and queer woman, it was Turner's mission to remind people that cannabis prohibition won't end until all felonies for marijuana crimes are wiped – especially for people of colour.
Turner's deep held belief in including marginalized communities in cannabis policy discussions and decision making was fundamental in her decision to co-found The People's Dispensary.
Launched in Oakland in 2016, The People's Dispensary is dedicated to providing quality cannabis products, while also operating with equity and social impact at the forefront of their operations.
Empowering those around them, TPD guarantees 10 per cent of their net profits to reinvestment funds in the local community, with a focus on ending criminalization.
They also care about their employees – 95 per cent of which are people of colour – by providing affordable housing, no cost health services such as staff nurses and mental health professionals, while also creating jobs for those previously incarcerated.
TPD operates under the ethos that they are more than just a dispensary. Like Turner, the other activists at TPD believe in both the medical and economic healing properties of cannabis, that these profits can work towards transforming marginalized communities. The company has plans to soon expand to Chicago, Fresno, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
It's work such as this that begins to defy the racist consequences of the War on Drugs, and ensures that people of colour aren't merely subjugated to the white man's stinging roach of cannabis profits.
CBD & Hemp Products
Perhaps one of the most iconic cannabis affiliates has to be Bob Marley; you'd be hard pressed to find any college dorm without a rasta-coloured poster of the reggae star, huge spliff in hand.
Now, his grandson, Nico Marley, is continuing his legacy while forging his own path in the CBD wellness industry.
As a former NFL line-backer for the Washington Redskins, Marley founded Lion X after discovering the benefits of CBD to treat his performance aches and pains, where he "came to realize first-hand how [CBD] helps with pain management, recovery and relaxation".
Launched on Earth Day in April 2020, LionX was designed to allow consumers to "embrace [their] inner lion" through a range of restorative wellness products range using 200mg to 2000mg CBD.
Marley says the inspiration behind the range was his grandfather's natural philosophies, combined with a holistic approach to health and fitness, and a passion for performance.
Lion X uses organically grown hemp, local ingredients and non-GMO products, sourced directly from the Colorado Hemp Project in Colorado, which were the first company given the green light to begin growing Industrial Hemp in the United States.
Their products include 200mg vegan CBD gummies, topical, cooling muscle balms with 500mg of CBD and oils ranging up to 2000mg of CBD.
Founded by black woman Iyana Edouard, Kush & Cute is an online cannabis business dedicated to and inspired by women.
Kush & Cute was founded in 2016 after Edouard saw the disparity in the cannabis industry that not only lacks black people, but also black women.
It was her mission, then, to create a female-driven business that supports diversity and inclusion, while also helping to de-stigmatize the plant.
Kush & Cute is passionate about communicating the healing powers of CBD and hemp in skincare and lifestyle products.
With handmade hemp face and hair oils, CBD-infused toners, and 'wake and bake' body scrubs, K&C is looking to revolutionise the beauty cabinet of women worldwide.
Combining the restorative, calming properties of Asana yoga with the stress-relieving, pain-alleviating properties of cannabis seems like a no brainer, with regular cannabis consumers likely no stranger to the euphoric feeling that arises with stretching and toking up.
For California-based yoga teacher Minelli Eustàcio-Costa, it was a practice that she first enjoyed in her own home, before realizing its enormous potential to help others. Costa has been teaching yoga since 2015, but it wasn't until 2017 she began to see a commercial possibility in her smoke-induced yoga flows.
Costa now offers weekly cannabis infused yoga classes in her studio in Los Angeles. Here, practice focuses on "slow, intentional poses and breathwork that takes advantage of the increased awareness of sensations offered by cannabis".
She claims that "sadhus, monks and yogis have consumed cannabis to aid in yoga and meditative practice since 2000 BCE", the practice holistically targeting the body, mind, breath and soul.
All classes begin with a "communal cannabis session", starting with education on strains and consumption methods. The next step is to light up and "let go of tension, mediate on the breath and feel grounded in your body," says Costa.
And for high yogis who aren't located in California? The studio now offers online memberships, which gives you access to seven hours of pre-recorded cannabis-infused yoga classes, as well as weekly classes added every Monday.
With prices starting at just $5, all you have to do is BYO bud.
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