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The Cannabis Industry Needs to Advocate for Racial Justice - Here's How

Like many industries, cannabis has a long and fraught racial history. Racism was the original reason behind cannabis prohibition in the United States, and cannabis prohibition continues to be used as an excuse to lock up a disproportionate number of Black and Brown people. To this day, people in the United States use and sell marijuana at roughly the same rate1 regardless of their race, yet a Black person is almost four times1 more likely than a white person to be arrested for marijuana possession nationwide.
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We are overdue for a reckoning. As a community, members of the cannabis industry (especially white ones like us) must unite against the systemic racism and rampant police brutality that have resulted in the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor (whose 27th birthday would have been today), Eric Garner and far too many others.
We offer up these resources to educate and support this work:

EDUCATE yourself

Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources2 - Educational tools especially relevant for white anti-racist allies

M4BL3 Week of Action - Learn about the Movement for Black Lives

Marijuana and the Fight for Racial Justice4 - Op-Ed from Marijuana Moment detailing the deeply racist history of marijuana in the US

Black Lives Matter - What Matters5 Podcast

Equal Justice Initiative6 - Committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. 

Antiracist Research and Policy Center7 - A university-based research center bringing together scholars, policymakers, journalists, and advocates around a collection of broad and shifting issue areas like—education, economy, environment, health, politics, and justice reform—to research how best to dismantle racist structures, practices, and institutions that reproduce racial inequities.

ACLU Report on Race and the Drug War1

Charged – The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration8

Reverend Angel Kyodo Williams9, author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation

Students for Sensible Drug Policy 10


SUPPORT the movement

Past VT Actions:

  • Friday, June 6/5 - Essex (Essex Five Corners, 4:30-6pm)
  • Saturday 6/6 - Waitsfield. Mad River Valley Anti-Racism Initiative. Meet at Waitsfield United Church at 9am.
  • Saturday, 6/6 - S Royalton (Vermont on the Green, near VT Law School 6pm-8pm)
  • Sunday 6/7 - Honour Their Names - (State House Lawn Montpelier, VT 12pm-4pm)

Past NH Actions:

  • Saturday 6/6 - Concord Black Lives Matter Protest (Concord Statehouse, Saturday 6/6 at 1pm)
  • Saturday 6/6 - Nashua Black Lives Matter Vigil (6pm, Greeley Park, Nashua)
  • Saturday 6/6 - March for Justice (2pm, Kittery / Portsmouth, see Facebook event for details)
  • Sunday 6/7 - Portsmouth United - Rally honoring the loss of innocent lives - (North Church of Portsmouth, Sunday 6/7 12pm)

If you are not comfortable attending rallies during the pandemic, you can still support and defend Black Lives:

  • Sign the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) petition:  
  • For M4BL updates, follow their Facebook Page (@mvmt4bl) or text PLEDGE to 90975.
  • Support local BLM chapters, the George Floyd Memorial Fund & local BIPOC organizations by donating or sharing on social media:


George Floyd Memorial Fund:

Black Vision Collective (Minneapolis):

Reclaim the Block (Minneapolis):

Dream Defenders (Florida):

Donate to the Louisville Community Bail Fund (Louisville):

Southern Poverty Law Center:

Black Lives Matter Greater Burlington (Vermont):

Roots Mutual Aid and Support Network - one of the only mutual aid networks that have centered on the needs, resources, abilities, and work of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) in Vermont.

Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR) envisions a future in which the residents East of the Anacostia River in DC experience vital, thriving communities characterized by social, cultural, economic and racial equity.

National Bailout - National Bail Out is a Black-led and Black-centered collective of abolitionist organizers, lawyers and activists building a community-based movement to end systems of pretrial detention and ultimately mass incarceration.

Cannabis industry assets for minority business opportunities, social equity (courtesy of MJ Biz Daily):

C.E. Hutton A minority-focused business development and management firm, provides a variety of tools, including capital-raise support to cannabis entrepreneurs and companies.

Justice for All Our mission is dismantle systemic racism, eliminate poverty and ensure racial equity through advocacy, education, and relationship-building.

Last Prisoner Project Core social justice focus is to release incarcerated cannabis prisoners.

Marijuana Policy Project The MPP lobbies for cannabis legislative reform across the U.S. The organization’s website includes information and resources related to race, justice and cannabis.

Minorities for Medical Marijuana M4MM is “focused on providing advocacy, outreach, research, and training as it relates to the business, social reform, public policy, and health/wellness in the cannabis industry.” Programs include cannabis industry apprenticeships and expungement of possession charges.

Minority Cannabis Business Association The MCBA’s mission is “to create equal access for cannabis businesses and promote economic empowerment for communities of color by creating policy considerations, social programming, and outreach initiatives to achieve equity for the communities most affected by the war on drugs.” MCBA has teamed with Merida Capital Partners to fund11minority-owned cannabis businesses and institutions.

National Diversity and Inclusion Cannabis Alliance The NDICA was founded “to create social equity, social justice and diversity for those affected by the war on drugs.” The organization offers events and programs and is a qualified vendor for Los Angeles’ Social Equity Business Development Program. The L.A. program assists entrepreneurs and companies with business licensing applications and more.

NuLeaf Project The NuLeaf Project aims “to address the capital, education, and connection hurdles that people of color face when entering the cannabis industry.” The organization, according to its website, “invests cannabis tax and corporate revenue into Portland, Oregon-based businesses owned by people of color and Portland professionals of color.”

The Sentencing Project The Sentencing Project provides research and analysis meant to shape campaign priorities around criminal-justice reform, including disparities based on race.