Minorities in Cannabis: Social Equity During a Racial Pandemic
In any industry, life is more difficult for people of color, women, and other minorities. The cannabis industry is no different. In fact, there’s been an obvious lack of representation of communities of color since the inception of legal cannabis.
Fortunately, there are those out there who strive for equity and inclusion. Erik Range, for instance, is a brave advocate for minorities in cannabis. Erik’s work is altering the industry’s landscape.
Here’s everything you need to know about minorities in cannabis fighting for social equity.
Who Is Erik Range?
When it comes to minorities in cannabis, Erik Range is somewhat of a superhero. Like all superheroes, he has an origin story. First getting into the cannabis space back in 2015, Erik sought to change the way people viewed the everyday cannabis user.
Erik’s budding art company, Art 420, became an educational platform that used fine art to shift perspectives about the industry. However, something wasn’t quite right. Although many stereotypical cannabis users are, in fact, minorities, Erik quickly realized that minorities were notably absent from this new world of legal cannabis.
A Brief History of Minorities & Cannabis
The war on drugs took a heavy toll on communities of color. Arrests, convictions, and prison time for drug possession in Black and Latinx communities were unduly high. All of this despite Whites outnumbering Blacks five to one and using drugs at about the same rate.
To paint a clearer picture, here are a few stats from a recent American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report:
- In 2018, a Black person was 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a White person; this is the greatest disparity of the previous nine years.
- Between 2010 and 2018, some counties have seen increases in racial disparity in marijuana-related arrests rise by almost 1,000%.
Having an effect on nearly every community of color, the war on drugs has been disastrous. Yet even today, with waves of useful new cannabis laws, there are still very few people of color in the industry.
Erik is another new team member. We were impressed with his extensive knowledge and experience in the industry. Erik brings a wide range of skills to our team and seems to have had his hand in everything.
In the United States today, minorities fall victim to more than just unjust drug laws and high incarceration rates. In fact, they face disparities in almost every facet of normal life — from business to education and even health care.
The impact of COVID-19 has exacerbated the health care disparities, especially since people of color are at a higher risk of contracting and dying from the virus.
In response to this sweeping inequity, several organizations are taking action to improve the lives of those in Black and Brown communities.
The Work of Minorities for Medical Marijuana
Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM)— for which Erik Range serves as the Board Chair — is a nonprofit organization that aims to support minorities in cannabis. With respect, integrity, and accountability as its focus, M4MM fights for equity, inclusion, and diversity in both the cannabis industry and society at large.
Staying true to its core tenets, M4MM supports the community by providing a variety of robust programs. From teaching the public about the benefits of CBD to helping budding business owners get licensed, and from college internships to clearing marijuana charges, M4MM is everywhere serving nearly everyone.
Wherever there’s inequity in cannabis, M4MM is there to help. Recently, Range and his team hosted a 2-day virtual Cannabis Business Licensing Bootcamp for individuals who are interested in applying for a delivery license, which has been reserved for social equity applicants for the next two years. They even offer membership options to support growing businesses.
The Cultural Relevance of Black Lives Matter
As we continue through the COVID-19 pandemic, we also find ourselves dealing with another serious crisis involving race. In the midst of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, many are seeing for the first time the injustices that people of color have dealt with their entire lives.
For this reason, June 19 — also known as Juneteenth — took center stage this summer. The anniversary of slavery’s end became a high-profile event after the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others.
In support of BLM, the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) and M4MM have partnered up to start the More Than a Moment initiative. More Than a Moment focuses on dismantling systemic racism toward minorities in cannabis.
Using hashtags like #WECANDOMORE, More Than a Moment stands with protesters against systemic racism and violence.