How Wealthy White Men Are Gaming Cannabis’ Social Equity System
As marijuana reform spreads, state and local governments have realized it’s not enough to simply decriminalize the drug. A number of jurisdictions have embraced social equity programs as a core facet of cannabis policy. These programs aim to lower the licensing barrier for the groups hardest hit by the war on drugs – typically low-income individuals from certain disadvantaged neighborhoods, many with a criminal conviction for marijuana on their record.
But a new report from Vice News shows how privileged entrepreneurs are taking advantage of these programs. They’re partnering with people of color and those with past convictions, who need the capital to get their businesses started, in order to reap the benefit of social equity prioritization.
"A lot of the big-business people are using these people," San Francisco-based cannapreneur Gilbert Milam a.k.a. Berner told The Breakfast Club in 2018 "They'd be like, yo, let's say you got caught up… 'Let me give you a rack. Let me use your name, put it on this license.'"
The result is an industry nearly wholly owned by white people. Just 1% of dispensaries nationwide are owned by a black individual, notes Vice.
Read more about how wealthy, white individuals are benefitting from programs meant for disadvantaged groups here.