Cannabis Legal Group: Diversity in the Cannabis Industry: Working Towards Equal Access and Opportunity

As the BlackLivesMatter global network continues to raise awareness and bring justice to Black people around the world, many companies and industries have reflected on how they can increase diversity and promote economic empowerment for communities of color.

 

Authored By: Brianna DiSalvio 

Brianna is the Cannabis Legal Group Paralegal. She began her legal career at Howard & Howard Law Firm where she assisted attorneys and paralegals with business and commercial litigation matters in an administrative assistant role. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Hope College and her Paralegal Studies certification from Oakland Community College. Brianna is responsible for client relations, assisting with various stages of state and municipal licensing, and works to ensure research and document support are carried out effectively and efficiently for our cannabis clients

Cannabis Legal Group writes….

As the BlackLivesMatter global network continues to raise awareness and bring justice to Black people around the world, many companies and industries have reflected on how they can increase diversity and promote economic empowerment for communities of color.

Many cannabis business leaders have acknowledged the industry’s lack of diversity, long before current events surrounding police brutality and racial tensions became a focal point in the United States. The cannabis industry has already started taking steps to become more racially diverse, but there is no doubt still a long way to go.

Why is Diversity Such a Problem in the Cannabis Industry?  

Below is breakdown of marijuana business owners and founders by race, according to Marijuana Business Daily’s 2017 chart:

As you can see, 81% of marijuana business owners/founders are white, with only 5.7% identifying as Hispanic/Latino, 4.3% identifying as African-American and 2.4% identifying as Asian.

One of the biggest barriers is cost. State licensing and application fees can easily cost applicants six-digit figures, making it more of a challenge for people of color to get their cannabis business off the ground, due to many systemic barriers. Not all entrepreneurs have that kind of capital readily available, and the high financial fees make the industry exclusive to those who have more financial freedom and connections to wealthy investors.

With black people being 4 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession historically, despite using marijuana around the same rate, it raises the question: what is being done to help increase racial diversity in the cannabis industry?

Michigan’s Social Equity Program

In order to promote and encourage participation in the cannabis industry, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) launched Michigan’s Social Equity Program last year, which is a resource for communities and evaluates eligibility based on:

  1. marijuana convictions, and
  2. poverty.
READ  MRA Expands Eligibility Criteria of Social Equity Program

Those in eligible communities can receive fee reductions based on specific criteria. Additionally, the Social Equity Program  focuses on those that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement. Since communities of color have been heavily impacted by the War on Drugs, many have criminal records for low-level marijuana crimes, which can disqualify them from applying and entering the industry.

Changes in legislature, such as thMichigan Clean Slate Initiativecould assist in reducing the number of people imprisoned with non-violent cannabis offenses and allow greater access into the industry. Clean Slate’s seven-bill package could greatly improve Michigan’s expungement system, but the bill is still pending.

READ  Misdemeanor and Felony Expungement Opportunities Introduced in New Bill

The Takeaway

Continued policy considerations, social programming, and outreach initiatives will foster opportunity, equality and education in this ever-changing industry and promote positive practices. Working towards equal access and opportunity is essential to our communities and to the industry.

Brianna DiSalvio (18 Posts)Brianna is the Cannabis Legal Group Paralegal. She began her legal career at Howard & Howard Law Firm where she assisted attorneys and paralegals with business and commercial litigation matters in an administrative assistant role. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Hope College and her Paralegal Studies certification from Oakland Community College. Brianna is responsible for client relations, assisting with various stages of state and municipal licensing, and works to ensure research and document support are carried out effectively and efficiently for our cannabis clients.

MRA Expands Eligibility Criteria of Social Equity Program

By Sydney Fairman

On May 19th, 2020, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) announced the expansion of the eligibility criteria to Michigan’s social equity program.According to the MRA, this expansion will make it, “easier for individuals from those communities to qualify to participate in the program.”

Top 200 Cannabis Lawyers

Cannabis Law Journal – Editorial Board Members

Editor – Sean Hocking

Author Bios

Canada
Matt Maurer – Minden Gross
Jeff Hergot – Wildboer Dellelce LLP

Costa Rica
Tim Morales – The Cannabis Industry Association Costa Rica

Nicaragua
Elvin Rodríguez Fabilena

USA

General
Julie Godard
Carl L Rowley -Thompson Coburn LLP

Arizona
Jerry Chesler – Chesler Consulting

California
Ian Stewart – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Otis Felder – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Lance Rogers – Greenspoon Marder – San Diego
Jessica McElfresh -McElfresh Law – San Diego
Tracy Gallegos – Partner – Fox Rothschild

Colorado
Adam Detsky – Knight Nicastro
Dave Rodman – Dave Rodman Law Group
Peter Fendel – CMR Real Estate Network
Nate Reed – CMR Real Estate Network

Florida
Matthew Ginder – Greenspoon Marder
David C. Kotler – Cohen Kotler

Illinois
William Bogot – Fox Rothschild

Massachusetts
Valerio Romano, Attorney – VGR Law Firm, PC

Nevada
Neal Gidvani – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder
Phillip Silvestri – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder

Tracy Gallegos – Associate Fox Rothschild

New Jersey

Matthew G. Miller – MG Miller Intellectual Property Law LLC
Daniel T. McKillop – Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC

New York
Gregory J. Ryan, Esq. Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Tim Nolen Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

Oregon
Paul Loney & Kristie Cromwell – Loney Law Group
William Stewart – Half Baked Labs

Pennsylvania
Andrew B. Sacks – Managing Partner Sacks Weston Diamond
William Roark – Principal Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin
Joshua Horn – Partner Fox Rothschild

Washington DC
Teddy Eynon – Partner Fox Rothschild