The Great Weed Divide
According to a 2022 analysis of marijuana possession charges in Texas for the years 2017 to 2019, while only making up 12.9 percent of the state's population, African Americans accounted for 30.2% of all possession arrests.
According to a 2017 survey by Marijuana Business Daily, 80% of founders and owners of marijuana businesses identify as White. Only 5.7% and 4.3%, respectively, of these entrepreneurs, are Black or Hispanic.
Comedy Central's "South Park" poked fun at racial inequity in Colorado's marijuana market, but despite accurately portraying the disparity in ethnic backgrounds of cannabis business owners, the show failed to address the reasons why proponents are pleading for social equity.
Since marijuana legalization has spread across the states, people of color who have historically been penalized by the country's marijuana laws are mainly being left out of the lucrative cannabis industry. Minority business owners are fighting for change.
Iyana Edouard, a 27-year-old cannabis marketing strategist and content creator in California, stated, "I was the only Black woman for a long time in a lot of rooms—sometimes, still am." She managed Kush & Cute, a tiny company that sold hemp skin, for five years.
As the sector expanded in popularity, the introduction of laws and corporate competition made it "a lot harder for the tiny folks to stay in the game," according to Edouard, who founded one of the few brands of its sort owned by a Black woman. Edouard suspended Kush & Cute in May.
People of color made up 94% of individuals detained in connection with marijuana offenses in the five boroughs of New York City in 2020, according to a 2021 examination of those arrests. Black Wisconsinites were 4.3 times more likely to be found guilty of marijuana possession than white Wisconsinites, according to a 2021 analysis from the Milwaukee County, Wisconsin District Attorney's Office.
Despite having identical usage rates, black people are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, according to a 2020 analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union. "Black persons were more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in every state, and in some states, Black people were up to six, eight, or practically ten times more likely to be arrested," the authors said. Racial disparities were considerably worse in 31 states in 2018 than they were in 2010.