By Steven Palmer (a.k.a. Hazey Taughtme).
Introduction to social equity
Let’s get one thing straight — the world needs cannabis. Even as far back as 485 BC (just about 1,500 years ago), Greek historian Herodotus described the pot- smoking rituals of ancient Scythians.
In China, archaeologists uncovered evidence of cannabis use dating back 2,500 years. When considered in this light, cannabis is a human right — and a sacred one at that.
What does all of this have to do with social equity in the cannabis industry here and now?
Today, cannabis is a commercial product grown and sold for profit. After years of prohibition, prosecution, and lurking in the shadows, the cannabis industry is finally stepping out into the light under lawful retail regulations set forward by several states.
However, the means of commercially producing, selling, and profiting from cannabis are, so far, incredibly concentrated in the hands of white business owners. Recent figures put white ownership at a staggering 99% industry-wide.
Cannabis cultivation has an ancient legacy going beyond race, color, or creed. Despite that, in America’s burgeoning multi-billion dollar cannabis economy, your likelihood of involvement, ownership, and success depends on your skin color.
Without social equity in the cannabis industry, people of color will continue being shut out of an exciting economic opportunity that has, in large part, been built with their hands.
What does social equity look like in practice? Who qualifies for social equity, and who doesn’t? These are essential questions — and we’re going to tackle them.
Below, you’ll also find a guide to social equity programs in legal cannabis states like California, Illinois, and Michigan.
Why the cannabis industry needs social equity programs
Throughout the war on drugs era, the heavy-handed enforcement of marijuana prohibition resulted in the lopsided criminalization of people of color.
Despite a near equal