Harvard Political Review Article: Overpoliced, Underrepresented: Racial Inequality and Cannabis Capitalism

Here’s the abstract

How Weed Became White

For Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, fighting for representation in the cannabis industry is about both recognizing the injustices of the past and investing in a better future. Policies aimed at encouraging black participation in cannabis companies “should be seen as a form of restitution, and a recognition that poor communities of color bore the terrible brunt of this war that cut people’s lives short, limited their opportunities, limited their educational and career advancement, all of that,” he explained in an interview with the HPR. And even small gains in representation, he believes, can trigger a sort of “multiplier effect, where when a business is run by people of color, they tend to hire other people of color, and they tend to bank or do business with other people of color.”

The opposite, however, is also true — and that is what is happening now. White entrepreneurs in this industry typically work with white venture capitalists and cater to white audiences, creating few entry points for people of color. Federal restrictions compound this dynamic: “Because of the federal illegality, there are no bank loans in this area, there’s no small business administration coming in, there’s no commercial banking, and so its left to venture capitalists and private asset managers, very few of whom are people of color,” Hawkins said. Federal restrictions and local regulations also make cannabis a relatively complicated industry to navigate, raising barriers to entry for anyone without significant training or legal expertise.

Read the full article at http://harvardpolitics.com/culture/racial-inequality-cannabis/

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Author: Sean Hocking
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