The Cannabis Industry Is Striving For Increased Diversity


recent report on cannabis industry diversity was released by New Frontier Data with help from the women activist group  Women Grow. The report surveyed 1700 people. On gender diversity, the report concluded that women have 57 percent majority ownership and 30 percent have complete ownership. These numbers are meaningful and show a huge push towards gender equality within the cannabis industry, according to Green Rush Daily.

Bethany Rondeau is one of these women, she owns and operates Falcanna. Falcanna started as a craft medical cannabis farm and became a tier-three farm, the largest type of cannabis producer in the state. Rondeau doesn’t want her success to be tied to the fact that’s she’s a woman, but thinks it’s great women get to shine in the industry.

“That’s not what I hang my hat on,” Rondeau says.

New Frontier Data’s report concluded racial diversity is something that needs to be balanced. Only one percent of over 3000 owned cannabis dispensaries are owned by black people, according to a 2016 BuzzFeed report. A problem with a majority white-owned cannabis industry is white people are the least likely to suffer from the legal ramifications that surround cannabis.

Pot prohibition started in the 1930’s when Harry Anslinger used misplaced tribalism and racist attitudes dealing with Mexican immigration to fuel anti-cannabis rhetoric. Today, black and Hispanic men are three times as likely to be arrested for pot-related reasons even though pot use is relatively similar between white and black people. Solutions for the cannabis industries’ diversity imbalance are being experimented with in Oakland, California, Rolling Stone reports.

Oakland is rolling out an Equity Permit Program that prioritizes medical marijuana licenses go to communities that have been disproportionately damaged by the war on drugs. To qualify for the program you must have a marijuana-related conviction on your record or have lived in areas that have experienced a disproportionate amount of law enforcement attention. NORML reports. The goal of this program is to knock down barriers keeping minorities from gaining entry into the cannabis industry. These barriers include policy, funding, and education, Jesce Horton told Rolling Stone. Horton founded the Minority Cannabis Business Association.

One example of how the Equity Permit Program will bound these hurdles is through a business incubator to provide applicants with the capital and space needed to launch a cannabis dispensary. Bank won’t deal with cannabis because it’s still federally illegal, so business loans are out of the question. Grassroots movements like the Hood Incubator are aimed at helping usher in new black owners into the cannabis industry as well. It’s basically a finance and business boot camp, designed to give people all the fundamentals, acumen and capital needed to start and run a successful business, Rolling Stone reports. The Equity Permit Program is the first of its kind, but it’s not without its criticisms. There will only be eight licenses handed out in the first year, four of which have to be given to Equity Permit applicants.

That number is too small to let the industry grow properly, Horton says. Oakland’s medical marijuana officials know the program isn’t perfect. All they can do is focus on each problem as it arises and takes solace in the fact they’re allowing scorned cannabis users to step out of the shadows with the rest of the industry.

Read More About Cannabis Prohibition

  • Marijuana Prohibition Was Racist From The Start. Not Much Has Changed via The Huffington Post

  • 60 Years of Prohibition via NORML

Read About Black Owned Cannabis Businesses

  • 17 Black-Owned Cannabis Businesses You Should Know via Official Black Wallstreet
  • 12 Minority-Owned Cannabis Businesses That Are Shaping the Industry via Leafly

More Reading About Diversity Within Cannabis

  • What’s It Like Being Black in the White-Dominated Weed Industry via Complex
  • The case for drug war “reparations” via Vice News

GreenRush Cannabis is a WA i502 producer-processor located in the scenic Snohomish Valley. We produce a clean, sophisticated crop that has become a preferred brand for a number of top shops in Washington state known for our consistent terpene flavor, high quality, and deep impact.