Diversity in cannabis refers to expanding the visibility and representation of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) business owners and entrepreneurs within the industry. While inclusion is imperative across all industries, it is especially critical in the cannabis sector, which fights for decriminalization nationwide.
BIPOC populations are the most arrested, convicted, and incarcerated for cannabis possession and use, and remain highly under-represented in the industry's profit centers. As a result, it’s the organizations’ responsibility to stand at the forefront in aiding to uplift this underrepresented community.
In this article, we’ll cover 4 unique ways you can advocate for diversity in cannabis and why it matters.
Recently, on Kaya Cast, KayaPush’s podcast, we spoke with Ernest Toney, founder of BIPOCANN. In the state-legal markets, BIPOCANN works toward improving equitable representation for BIPOC business owners and entrepreneurs within the cannabis space.
Even before going on to create BIPOCANN, Ernest’s experience in the cannabis industry had him managing global marketing initiatives for the leading B2B news source for the industry across the US and Canada, MJ Biz Daily. They covered all things diversity, from visibility to inclusion to education and more. In this article, we are going to share his insights with you in a nutshell. Let’s dig in…
Following the unprecedented impact on the industry due to COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd, Ernest’s attention began swiftly shifting toward the social justice issue, “… am I making the impact in society that I wanna make doing what I'm doing at the moment? What can I do differently that can have a more profound impact than what I'm doing day to day? Because I wasn't really at a place where I felt like I could just go to work and pretend like business was normal because everything had changed in the world.”
This pain was felt by countless individuals across the country, “... the war on drugs was one that was a hundred percent focusing on finding ways to demonize and make criminals out of People of Color. So you have this history of our communities being decimated.”
The first step to many processes includes education. When it comes to advocating for diversity in cannabis, employers can take the time to educate their employees about potential growth opportunities they may not be immediately aware of.
Create platforms for people to be heard and promote equity, diversity, and inclusion within the industry. Host or attend conferences, create newsletters, share stories, and do whatever it takes to get people’s voices heard.
“... a lot of what we do is, in that space of the business, and we are also finding ways to literally advocate for our members and for those individuals who may not have the platforms to be seen and heard.”
Rather than wait for policies to be put in place that promote inclusion, be ahead of the curve. Find out ways your company can actually play a significant role in promoting diversity throughout the cannabis space.
Don’t be a wallflower. If you’re having difficulty connecting with minority groups, present yourself to them. Become more accessible to communities.
“We have done some collaborations that are focusing more on education. And through that, we've been able to provide resources that can just give them that foundational education about the cannabis industry or how to start a business.”
The cannabis industry is evolving before our eyes, which means we have the opportunity to shift the dynamic before it’s too late. Rather than waiting for inclusion policies to be put in place, it’s time to step up and increase visibility to leave your mark on the industry positively.
Thankfully, with emerging technology, like KayaPush, you can keep a close eye on your hiring procedures. Social equity programs and hiring in cannabis are critical - are you doing everything you can to right the wrongs of racial disparities involving marijuana?
“KayaPush has it all in one platform where you can kind of build what you need. Especially as a start-up, that’s important to us to be cost-friendly. You have the best price for what you’re offering. ”
-Marry Ann from Riverside Wellness-