Recently I had a discussion with an associate regarding Blackabis. He asked me why am I making being an African American in Cannabis a “thing?”
Let me start by saying, I am not the one that made being Black in Cannabis a “thing” our history did.
In 1971 President Richard Nixon proclaimed, “America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.”
It should be difficult to have a conversation about legalizing marijuana without bringing up the War on Drugs. After Nixon declared the War on Drugs he also placed Marijuana on Schedule one. (Other drugs on Schedule one are Heroin, LSD, Ecstasy, and Meth.) John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s domestic-policy adviser is quoted in Dan Baum’s article Legalize It All saying, “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Ronald Reagan took office in 1981 with his election the anti drug hysteria had reached an all time high. President Reagan and his wife’s “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign introduced a no tolerance anti-drug environment. The incarceration rate of possession went from 50, 000 to over 400,000 by 1997. Many of the possession offenses were for an ounce or less of marijuana. Showing a disparity of over 60% being African American and Latino.
Today we are watching history evolve into the decriminalization of marijuana, which I like to call the “Free the Weed” era. In the “Free the Weed” era selective states are voting for legalization of marijuana and marijuana commerce. In 2014 Colorado reported to have created over 10,000 jobs and 3.5 million dollars in tax revenue. However, to qualify for employment and/or ownership you had to be drug felony free. Which is the requirement for every state that has legalized marijuana commerce. Every employee and owner in each state has to register with their respective states as a legal cannabis worker.
The background check is another weeding out process ( pun intended). The background check automatically deters the African American and or Latino candidate. It also disqualifies any candidate that has a drug related felony. Which seems ridiculous considering you could do time for possessing an amount that is as little as a joint. AND who is more qualified for a job in marijuana than someone that has experience with weed?
I didn’t make being black in cannabis an issue or a “thing.” but I am black and in the business of cannabis. I am one of the few African Americans and even fewer of the number of African American women in the business. My opportunity doesn’t make me privileged it makes me aware. In my awareness I recognize the responsibility to advocate the decriminalization of marijuana, educate on the legalization of cannabis and inform the patients of their options.