The Racist Weed Industry

Rina Cakrani

An urgent issue that is coming more to the surface these past few months is the fact that there are so many white businesses that, as a result of weed production and cultivation, are booming. Even the media has been praising them, especially the companies that are run by white women. It has been normalized as a form of business that is not wrong in theory, but in actuality it is hypocritical considering that so many Brown and Black people (in particular men) have to suffer long sentences in prison because they engaged in the same practice. Although they did it when it was illegal in the respective states that now have legalized them, the fact that they have been incarcerated and still are now that weed has been legalized, points to how unjust the system is. Another problem is in the fact that even now the Brown and Black communities could have the opportunities to pursue this entrepreneurship, getting a license and fighting against societal prejudices has become very hard. This is why the overwhelming majority of weed companies are owned by white people.

Illustration by Haley King

There is an obvious paradox between the number of people of color who have been jailed for simple possession since the War on Drugs began and the number of white men and women who are starting to make millions in profit from the industry. Formal statistics about the number of businesses still do not exist because it is a fairly new phenomena, but first-hand accounts and reports confirm that cannabis entrepreneurs are overwhelmingly white. This is ironic considering the previous (and still the ongoing for non-white communities) aggressive enforcement of marijuana possession laws that needlessly and unnecessarily misplaced hundreds of thousands of Brown and Black people into the criminal justice system and has wasted billions of taxpayers’ dollars. And it is obvious that such measures are carried out with staggering racial bias. Not to mention that this racist policy, despite having been a priority for police departments nationwide for many decades, has failed to reduce marijuana use and availability and has diverted resources that could have been better invested in the communities of need. Therefore, if there is one solution to this current problem that has caused so much trouble for the Brown and Black communities, it is to reopen the cases of non-violent drug offenders and regulate their sentences or simply set them free. Apparently, the city of San Francisco is considering to undertaking this step that will be a sort of achievement in helping out marginalized communities. Hopefully, other cities will follow the same initiative.

Ultimately, all I have to say is that everyone should feel uncomfortable with how white America is setting up generational wealth off of weed when so many Black and Latino men have been incarcerated and lost their livelihood over the same thing.