The majority of U.S. states that have legalized recreational cannabis still lack the laws and strategies that would help create a fairer and more equitable cannabis industry, according to a report undertaken by Leafly.
Black Ownership In Cannabis Lower Than National Average
Even though Black people make up 14% of the U.S. population, Leafly’s research found that they only own 2% of cannabis businesses. That disparity is especially glaring in light of data that track black ownership in all industries nationwide. Roughly 1 in 20 Black Americans own business equity in any industry, while only 1 in 50 cannabis companies is Black-owned.
Obstacles include the American criminal justice system, the systemic denial of economic opportunity and substandard healthcare access.
The Seeds of Change report, released on the 50th anniversary of the War on Drugs, used several criteria, including social justice, equity and inclusion (SJEI) to rank the states.
With Colorado, California, Illinois and New York topping the list as the most positive for SJEU and South Dakota being last with the lowest score, all 19 adult-use cannabis markets still need to incorporate the eight key social justice strategies, listed below:
- Mandate automatic expungement of cannabis records;
- Establish equitable cannabis licensing systems;
- Safeguard rights and accessibility for medical patients;
- Allow home growing and regulate it reasonably;
- Dedicate cannabis tax revenue to heal, not harm;
- Gather robust data and share it widely;
- Reduce stigma through proactive programs;
- Support cannabis career development opportunities.
In terms of the most popular cannabis equity strategies that legal states employ, home growing and medical cannabis programs are the most popular.
The report revealed that only 53% of legal-use states are carrying out equity-focused licensing initiatives and that 63% are not reinvesting their cannabis revenue or taxes into communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the drug war.
Janessa Bailey, author of Seeds of Change and creator of the Leafly Equity Score, pointed out that “black and brown communities continue to pay the highest price for cannabis prohibition.
“As new states legalize cannabis, Seeds of Change lays out what we can learn from the most equitable state markets and how it can be used to create thoughtful and intentional policy,” Bailey said.