By: DM BLUNTED
I recently spoke about why representation matters in cannabis, especially for us black folks that have been persecuted for building the industry and culture behind it. But that in no way means that we should wait around for the white folks in power to get their shit together and recognize and repair their lack of inclusivity. Far from it actually, because Lord knows when that will happen – and we don’t have time to wait when it comes to securing the bag! So what do we do? We build our own safe spaces, host open conversations, and create responsible representation.
When I type that sentence out it sounds so simple. It sounds like all we have to do is apply for a few permits and patiently wait for a fair and unbiased panel to decide if you’re one of the lucky few to actually receive said licensing. But we know that’s rarely the case. We’re aware that the majority of marijuana permits go to white people – which perfectly illustrates why black people only own 4.3% of all cannabis businesses nationwide. The steep and confusing climb to the “green rush” is made even more difficult with heavy generational stereotypes and consequences placed on our black backs. All of this is coupled with a lack of community understanding and support would make anyone hesitant to jump head first into cannabis.
I’m sure some of y’all are reading this and are probably like, “wasn’t this supposed to be empowering?” But wait for it. Everyone should know the good and bad before making any life-changing decision.
Now upwards and onwards. The beauty of cannabis is that there is still time to shape this industry to work for us. And as an “alternative industry,” it’s possible to call out the problems we face and make bigger waves – compared to more established industries like tech, energy, pharmaceuticals, etc. Our voices and actions can and do make lasting impacts on cannabis culture and business.
Take me for example. I started posting pictures of me smoking weed on Instagram, almost two years ago. Yes, I’ve gone through some thangs for calling folks out and speaking my mind. I will say though, through it all I’ve been able to connect and build a community with like-minded folks. At an array of intersections. But most importantly with other black folks who don’t just sympathize but empathize with the path, I’m on. To be able to read messages and comments from other black womxn showing their support or expressing their interest in cannabis gives me life. They are the embers that keep me burning – even when others are trying to snuff me out.
I think before you make the final jump to invest any portion of your life into cannabis, you need to connect to the folks in your local cannabis community. And also to folks who you want to work with, in the future. The connections that you make, will not only help you get a better understanding of what you’re walking into – but will also make it so much easier to create your own thriving safe space within cannabis. Without the community I have, I wouldn’t have had the support group that has been there for me, through thick and thin. I wouldn’t have had the ability to connect with folks who want to see me prosper.
Often times, success in cannabis looks like dollar signs. Which is fine, but it can also lead to unachievably high expectations. So instead of banking on securing the bag, bank on building a safe and solid community that is willing and happy to help you, secure that bag.
And lastly, we as black people can build our own communities and businesses within cannabis, but that doesn’t mean our white counterparts shouldn’t help us in the process. Along with messages of encouragement, I also get frequent DMs (particularly from Black Womxn) expressing their confusion and pain about how they’re treated by their white counterparts in cannabis. It’s already hard enough to get into this industry if you’re not rich or well connected. But our white counterparts make it so much more excruciating by excluding us from their conversations, marketing strategies and hiring practices. So, if you’re a white person trying to make this industry equitable for everyone – look around you and ask what can you do for the folks you’re profiting off of.