Washington DC is taking a major step in the right direction by giving local minorities the top priority when it comes to applying for local marijuana business licenses.
Race and ethnicity should have nothing to do with, and should be left out of, the process of all job applications. In this case, however, it’s a priority to make sure that there’s a balance in ownership of marijuana businesses. If you are not aware, the cannabis industry is dominated by white men.
The contradiction between the amount of black individuals, especially who are incarcerated due to marijuana and those who actually run marijuana businesses is completely lopsided. Councilmember Robert C White Jr., who sponsored the recent past legislation, told the Washington Post, “We have locked up so many black people for marijuana and it is incredibly hypocritical for those folks to return from prison on marijuana charges to come back to a place that has now legalized an industrialized, and they can’t play any role in.” The city of DC has eight Marijuana Cultivation Centers, five dispensaries and only one black cultivator. Meanwhile, DC is 49 percent black.
Downtown Washington DC has been experiencing a recent economic boom in the past 15 years however, the poorest communities have gone in the other direction. Numbers have shown that they have missed the money boat rolling through the downtown area. On top of that, Washington D.C. also happens to be one of the most segregated cities in the country. This past February, the city lifted the prohibition against felons restricting them from entering the medical cannabis industry. Places like Oakland, California have already set aside half of its cannabis business permits for people arrested for drug crimes in the city or from neighborhoods with many drug arrests.
This is yet again another example of the glaring divided racially, ethnically and economically in our country. With a growing economic sector like cannabis – if we do not include everybody, we are bound to fail like many other institutions established before us. Cannabis has always been an inclusive medicine and one that has no barriers, sees no race or sex, and we should continue to keep it that way.