In our previous posts, Social Equity in Cannabis and Current Complications, we discussed the importance of social equity in the cannabis industry and current programs that are designed to provide resources to minority owners/suppliers trying to enter the legalized market. Cannabis prohibition and criminalization has disproportionately affected people of color for decades; a Black person is nearly 4 times as likely to be arrested for a marijuana-related offense, despite the congruence in usage. This data indicates a severe racial bias in law enforcement, which is still prevalent today. The primary goal of social equity programs is to provide equitable opportunity for ownership and participation in the cannabis industry, while attempting to reduce disparities within the marginalized communities most impacted by its prohibition.
Most states’ policies are new and face challenges against a growing, and rapidly evolving industry. Many minority owners/suppliers have yet to break ground with their new businesses because of lack of resource, funding, or court litigation tied to policy. In this final chapter of our Social Equity in Cannabis series, we’re going to provide additional resources that applicants may find useful, in addition to their individualized states’ social equity programs.
The Last Prisoner Project’s mantra is direct: “We will not rest and we will not stop until the last cannabis prisoner is set free.” LPP is dedicated to criminal justice reform in cannabis. Their vision is centered around the concept that if wealth is obtained in this industry, it should be allocated to help rebuild and restructure the lives of those who have been penalized under criminal conviction. According to their website, “The Last Prisoner Project was founded in 2019 out of the belief that no one should remain incarcerated for cannabis offenses. We brought together a team of cannabis industry leaders, criminal and social justice advocates, policy and education experts, and leaders in social justice and drug policy reform to work to end this fundamental injustice. We are committed to freeing every last prisoner of the unjust war on drugs, starting with the estimated 40,000 individuals imprisoned for cannabis.” LPP utilizes intervention, advocacy, and awareness-driven campaigns to assist in cannabis law and policy reformation. Their coalition is composed of attorneys, advocates, and impacted individuals who sought justice and are representative of those currently seeking justice penalized by a paradoxical system.
The National Diversity and Inclusion Cannabis Alliance (NDICA) is a 501(c)(3) organization that prioritizes a fair, and equitable cannabis industry. They want to effectively reduce obstacles created from lack of representation of the marginalized community. In accordance to their website: “Our team aligns with innovative thinkers and leaders to create guidance and mentorship for the markets we serve. By bringing together government agencies, industry leaders, practitioners and intellectuals through forums, expungement clinics, trainings, think tanks and a thriving online community, NDICA provides the necessary technical expertise and resources to succeed in the cannabis and non-cannabis industries.” Additionally, NDICA provides social equity applicants with general application assistance, fee deferrals, business licensing and compliance, technical complications, and priority processing. NDICA also offers extended courses on America’s War on Drugs, and budtending.
Founded in 2014, Women Grow is an organization committed to empowering and cultivating the next generation of female leaders within the cannabis industry. With 35 participating markets and communities nationally, Women Grow focuses on establishing connections, building communities, and promoting cannabis education to generate resources for aspiring and current entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry. Every first Thursday of the month, they offer a Signature Networking Event which connects entrepreneurs to industry professionals and experts.
Minorities for Medical Marijuana (MMM) is a non-profit organization that promotes marijuana advocacy, education, research, and social policy reform. MMM also acts as a community resource for events, activities, initiatives, and discussions. Established in May of 2016, the organization has grown to host multiple chapters of its initiative nationwide. In addition to focusing on equity within our industry, they also advocate for social justice reform and inclusivity of marijuana in the healthcare field.