The Black community has been instrumental in bringing awareness to the benefits of cannabis and has played an integral role in popularizing cannabis use in the mainstream; helping dispel myths and negative stigmas associated with the medical and recreational use of cannabis products. These pioneers helped open the doors to legalization in the US.
Here are a few trailblazing Black entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry whose work inspires us:
A cannabis marketer and the co-founder of Cannaclusive, a cannabis company created to facilitate fair representation of minority cannabis consumers. Pryor and two other black women, Tonya Rapley, and Charlese Antionette, felt compelled to create Cannaclusive after being the only black people in the room at cannabis events. The company provides stock photos of diverse women and men using cannabis. Cannaclusive also hosts educational events and workshops to help people of color understand the benefits and business opportunities of cannabis.Check out Cannaclusive
Doctors Rachel Knox and Jessica Knox
Known as The Canna MDs, these two sisters along with their mother and father who are also doctors, founded the American Cannabinoid Clinics in 2014, to deliver “precision Cannabinoid Medicine to every patient looking for a personalized approach to healing.” The clinic was started after mother, Dr. Janice Knox, was exposed to the diversity of cannabis patients and its benefits while both daughters were away at school. The family has multiple clinics throughout Oregon and also established The Canna MDs website to educate patients, healthcare providers, and the general public with information about using cannabis medicine.Learn More
C.J. Wallace, inspired by his father, the late rapper Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace, founded Think BIG, a cannabis company that creates curated cannabis products and content focused on creativity, contemplation and healing. Think BIG was born out of the 23-year-old’s pursuit to better understand who his father was and the connections they shared. Another aim of Think BIG is to support organizations that advocate for social and criminal justice reform including mass incarceration and climate change.Think BIG
Black Lives Matter
Although the Black community has been a major influence on the current cannabis culture, there are still too few people of color in the industry and too many gaps in representation. Lack of opportunity is largely due to heavy regulation, the high cost of entry, and information/ resource disparities. According to the ACLU, Black people are still 3.6 times more likely than white people to get arrested and incarcerated for possession of cannabis, despite similar usage rates. We must acknowledge the racial injustices in the cannabis community. The fact is that there is a disproportionate number of Black people who are not reaping the benefits of an industry they positively contributed to, but are oftentimes being targeted, punished, and unjustly imprisoned as a result of their involvement with cannabis. These factors hinder minorities from entering the industry as owners, employees, patients & consumers. Working to remove these barriers to embrace all communities, will increase the cannabis industry’s growth, contribute to its economic development, and display the positive impact of cannabis as medicine.
What We’re Doing
The war on cannabis has destroyed lives at a rate that is significantly higher among people of color. As a company that believes in the healing power of cannabis, we have a responsibility to fight for change. To do so we have partnered with the Last Prisoner Project to support their goal of freeing people from serving decades-long jail sentences for non-violent drug charges. Through collection boxes at every dispensary, we help fund the Last Prisoner Project. These funds allow the Last Prisoner Project to help people like Parker Coleman, who is currently serving a 60-year sentence for a “marijuana conspiracy” charge despite no evidence of direct involvement or violence of any kind. Unless he receives clemency, Parker will be in his 80s when he is released – and he is only one of many.
From February 12th – 28th, GrowHealthy will match all donations to The Last Prisoner Project up to $10,000.Visit Your Local Store To Donate
What We Can Do Better
Our world is imperfect, and the legal cannabis industry resides in an unjust system marked by bias and inequity. At GrowHealthy, we acknowledge that the work of correcting injustices is never finished. We are committed to continuing to listen, learn and change to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive cannabis industry.
Our team members support each other daily in the effort to check our biases, and we recognize that diversity makes us a stronger company. We seek to improve minority representation in our marketing efforts and patient education materials. We are working to prioritize dispensing to patients in underserved communities. We will continue to recruit and hire people of color throughout the company, from the grow room to the board room.
Restoring justice requires collaboration, and we are proud to partner with Minorities for Medical Marijuana, whose leadership and advocacy inspires us to do better. Every day.
Resources for education and networking for people of color in the industry