I studied film at a small liberal arts college in Boston, and subsequently saw my best friends divided between Boston and Los Angeles. They’re all up to two things: putting their respective liberal arts degrees to good use, and taking advantage of legal weed.
I have friends attending combination cannabis/yoga classes, having weed delivered from services similar to Postmates, and getting student discounts at their local dispensaries. It’s a weird culture I have little familiarity with, considering I’m based out of New York where marijuana is still illegal. Recreational marijuana use is now legal in 8 states, and it’s opened a wide door for new businesses and new ideas. The market was predicted to have earned $10 billion in 2017, and there’s no doubt that the accommodating taxation can do wonders for the states weed is legal in.
Still, I have a bad taste in my mouth, and it’s not because I have a problem with legal marijuana.
A Price to Pay
Approximately 643,000 people were arrested in 2015 for weed-related crimes. In 2013, the ACLU reported that black Americans were 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white Americans. Only 1% of dispensaries in the United States are black-owned. And when I look through Forbes and Business Insider, all the weed businesses being featured are owned by white people.
That isn’t to say there aren’t businesses and initiatives making strides to pay reparations to those who have been convicted: Oakland and Los Angeles have introduced priority to those who have been incarcerated when it comes to permit applications in selling marijuana. It’s a step in the right direction to ensure that the emerging marijuana industry is not only accessible to everyone, but fair.
Be the Change
It’s an exciting time for the 8 states that have legalized recreational marijuana, and it’s a market undoubtedly cornered by the small business world. With a small business, you exercise certain freedoms and control over your store, and evidently, creative ideas. It’s just hard to celebrate marijuana’s contribution to the small business world when there’s still so much work to do.
There’s also a certain duty amongst small businesses, and those who work and support them—SumAll included!—to fight for what’s right for all entrepreneurs. The same way we stand up for a designer’s shirt being stolen by a big brand, or applaud the selflessness of a business that gives back to their community, is the way we should align ourselves with an industry that still errs on the side of being problematic. This isn’t just for the marijuana industry, but for all industries, too.
As the world of legal weed continues to grow, I hope to see more opportunities for everyone to get into the game, better and more inclusive coverage of everyone involved, and of course, a focus on the marijuana industry as a small business institution. Maybe you’re against a world where marijuana is legal, but you certainly can’t deny its potential, and the impact it will have in the small business world.