It’s Time to Level the Playing Field
This isn’t the cannabis industry of just a few years ago. In fact, things change exponentially on the daily. Across the country and around the world, the perceptions of and legislation around cannabis continually usher in a whole new era. And doing right by people who’ve been hurt by prohibition is one of the most beautiful and empowering things about this change. It’s about time!
How Did We Get Here in the First Place?
First, let’s get some perspective. Most people don’t realize that “marijuana” was illegalized because industrial hemp (also part of the cannabis family of plants) threatened the billion dollar industries of a handful of wealthy men – not because it was a dangerous drug. Period. After all, hemp can be used to make everything from food to plastics to fuel to paper to hempcrete (concrete), hempboard, to textiles to…well, you name it. And it does it all in environmentally sound ways. Basically, if you can make it from something else, you can probably make it from hemp.
That’s a bigger conversation, but suffice it so say, a racist agenda gave rise to the War on Drugs. The result? People of color, in general, especially those from challenged urban neighborhoods, have been marginalized and subjugated for decades. In addition to being disproportionately targeted and imprisoned for cannabis and street drugs , many face barriers to now entering the legal cannabis industry – or any industry, for that matter. The War on Drugs created a generational ripple effect.
Change is a Good Thing
It’s time to flip the narrative and to set right what has been wrong for far too long. That’s exactly what’s happening. People of color are starting to get the training and social and legal support they need for equal opportunities in the industry and in life.
Around the country, social equity and diversity groups and movements in cannabis are making huge strides. Social equity essentially involves making reparations to communities and individuals harmed by the War on Drugs. Decades of systemic racism and harsh drug laws have left generational impacts that need to be repaired and reversed.
NDICA and Dorsey Academy of Entrepreneurs Are Raising the Bar for the Cannabis Industry in California
You could say California is blazing a trail, in this regard. In an historic move, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) has awarded a grant to Los Angeles based National Diversity and Inclusion Cannabis Alliance (NDICA) and the Norris Dorsey Academy of Entrepreneurs. Of the 69 grants totaling $28.5 million awarded to organizations across the state, this grant is unique. It’s the first and only one awarded to cannabis-industry specific community reinvestment measures.
Grant monies come from the cannabis tax revenue from Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act of 2016. It falls under the California Community Reinvestment Grants program.
NDICA and the Norris Dorsey Academy of Entrepreneurs have already been working together for over three years. They’ve helped thousands of people turn their lives around. “We are grateful to be recognized by the Governor’s office for our Social Equity and Social Justice work in Los Angeles and across the nation,” says Bonita Money, Founder of NDICA. “This grant will give us the opportunity to expand our programs and services, such as workforce development, job placement, vocational training, cannabis education, entrepreneurship and expungements of non-violent criminal records.”
Dr. Norris Dorsey, Founder of the Academy, shares the vision for their combined efforts. “We are excited to deliver cannabis business education for those in the marginalized communities we serve. Education and entrepreneurship are key for those affected by the War on Drugs,” he says. “We aim to provide people with the tools they need to become whole again and to support their families.”
NDICA and The Academy have events planned through June 2020, with more to come. Look for them at both cannabis and mainstream events. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
You don’t have to live in a state with an official Social Equity Program to get involved in supporting equity, diversity and inclusion in the cannabis industry and community. A simple Internet search for “national equity and diversity in cannabis groups” will bring up multiple options. Do the same search to find groups in your specific city or state.