If one thing is true, is that glass ceilings are real and very tough to break. When it comes to being a minority, these truths become even heavier. And when it comes to cannabis, it appears that minorities are extremely underrepresented. According to Jasmine Sessoms, CEO of Community Wellness LLC., “more than 80 percent of cannabis businesses are owned by whites, while blacks and Hispanics constitute barely 10% of business ownership combined.” And in her own words, “this is wholly unacceptable”, mainly due to the fact that in the cannabis industry, “there are definite negative stereotypes about minorities and cannabis use”.
All of this can lead to a lack of opportunities for minorities to get professionally involved in the cannabis industry. For example, a Cannabis Business & Employment Opportunity Study conducted in Denver on June, 2020, featured the following information:
- 74.6% of owners of licensed cannabis businesses owners and 68% of employees are white
- 12.7% of cannabis business owners are Hispanic, Latino and Spanish
- 5.6% of ownership and 5.9% of industry employees are black and African American
“This study sadly confirmed what was widely suspected. Just like what has been seen across the state and in other legalized markets across the U.S., Denver does not have a diverse marijuana industry.”
Ashley Kilroy, Denver’s Excise and Licensing division executive director, Denver Post.
This means that just in Denver, only 18.3% percent of cannabis business owners belong to a minority. And again, that’s just within Denver city limits. The truth is that this is a national issue and one we can’t turn a blind eye to any more. According to Market Watch, “under one in five cannabis businesses nationwide are minority-owned”.
And the problem isn’t just related to job opportunities. Social injustice in the cannabis industry means that minorities are less likely to be granted licenses to open up marijuana businesses, they are more likely to be denied loans, and in case they are granted a loan, it’s generally for less money than for the white population. It’s a justice problem.
The lack of diversity and representation is why organizations like the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) exist. Their main purpose is to “progress the cannabis industry by increasing diversity of owners, employees and consumers.” Their mission is twofold: to create equal access for cannabis businesses and to promote economic empowerment of minority communities.
Why Should We Care About Diversity?
When more minorities are in dominant positions inside the cannabis industry is when you start to see a shift in the culture and the public’s perception. Diversity is all about obtaining new ideas, new perspectives, and new points of view. Outreach strategies are different and innovative ideas enter the room when it comes to entering new communities and reaching more people.
Diversity is important, wherever you are. Representation matters. And injustice simply shouldn’t be. The good thing is that there are plenty of people trying to make a difference.
“We are changing the industry by identifying underrepresented individuals and giving them the skills and training they need to have long-term success in the industry. By building the knowledge base and expanding beyond previously established horizons, we are guaranteeing that the workforce will continue to become more diverse as it grows.”
Jasmine Sessoms, CEO of Community Wellness LLC
If you are interested in changing the industry, education is key. If you want to learn more about cannabis, our certificate programs & courses can help. They range from cannabis horticulture, industrial hemp & CBD, cannabis dispensary, medical cannabis applications, and even an executive program to provide you with all the tools you need to succeed in the cannabis industry. Learn more about our courses, programs and certifications here!