Honeysuckle organized a panel discussion on minority entrepreneurs in the cannabis space. The panel consisted of Marie Montmarquet, co-founder of MD Numbers Inc., and Angela White, program manager, equity for the industry, and Liz Jackson-Simpson, CEO of Success Centers.
Washington, DC (TN Tribune) – In honor of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, Honeysuckle hosted a panel discussion on minority entrepreneurs in the cannabis space. The panel consisted of Marie Montmarquet, co-founder of MD Numbers Inc., and Angela White, program manager, equity for the industry, and Liz Jackson-Simpson, CEO of Success Centers.
The marijuana legalization and decriminalization movement has grown increasingly prominent in the United States. Biden stands for federal marijuana reformHis presidential victory is an encouraging sign of the future of cannabis legalization, although it remains to be seen how far he will deliver on his promises.
Even today, as many states like New Jersey ponder the details of implementing cannabis reform, Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs continues to target color communities by criminalizing drugs like marijuana and imposing harsh penalties for minor offenses. In an attempt to heal from the damage caused by mass incarceration and disenfranchisement, the legalization of marijuana offers an opportunity for justice.
When the government is considering taking equitable initiatives to allow marginalized communities to enter industry. The cost of buying real estate for a business, building it, growing it, and taxing it all create a barrier for people who want to get involved but don’t have the financial resources. The government must consider expelling individuals previously detained on marijuana charges. You must also consider grants, education, and training programs to teach disenfranchised communities how to build and grow their cannabis business.
Honeysuckle Panel Discussion on Women Entrepreneurs and Social Justice in the Cannabis Room
During the panel discussion, Marie Montmarquet asked: “What will the police arrest black people for the time being?” The prison system relies on the criminalization of cannabis to target and imprison color communities. Marie’s question points to the financial loss many prisons will suffer, and new vehicle authorities could use it to attack black communities once cannabis is legalized.
In addition, Marie stressed the need for legalization to go hand in hand with social justice programs.
“We must stop arresting black and brown people for smoking weed. Before the federal government interferes, and if the federal government interferes, we need to make sure they put in place equity programs that provide opportunities to people who have not previously sold cannabis, who have previously gone to jail and have been affected by the war on drugs to get into getting involved in the cannabis industry… ”said Montmarquet.
Not only is the justice system racist, entry into the cannabis industry, especially for people of color, is difficult. Many of the cannabis business owners currently are rich white men. Their better access to resources and business tactics leaves blacks no seats at the table.
Social justice in the cannabis room
Angela White spoke about the need for equity in the cannabis industry, as well as the proper distribution of funds to support color companies in the industry.
“As soon as a property owner hears that you’re about to open a cannabis business, the square footage triples. It’s a lot of injustice. There are many factors that have harmed us in and out of traditional markets. Nothing has changed. The reason they need equity programs and they need funding for these programs is that if you are going to give someone a path into this industry, you need to make sure these things are funded. We already know we’re injured, ”said White.
Many of the economic differences affecting black color communities have manifested themselves in the cannabis industry, making it even more difficult for minority businesses to engage and thrive.
The conversation about legalizing marijuana doesn’t end with the results of the vote. Legalization needs to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get involved in the industry and that the playing field is leveled through initiatives that accompany legalization.