Happy Juneteenth! Juneteenth marks the 155th anniversary – June 19, 1865 – when enslaved people in Texas learned about their emancipation and that slavery had ended. Though President Lincoln had actually signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, most Texas slaves did not learn they were free for another two-and-a-half-years.
While Juneteenth has long been celebrated by Black Americans, it has gained more attention this year in view of the ongoing Black Lives Matter struggle. You can learn more about Juneteenth and its history here.
U.S. Representative and long-time cannabis policy hero Rep. Earl Blumenauer is closing his office along with many others to observe Juneteenth, and told his supporters, “The events of the past few weeks have sparked long overdue conversations surrounding the structural inequities Black Americans face as a result of hundreds of years of enslavement and racist policies.And while part of observing Juneteenth involves celebrating emancipation, it’s also a day for fostering those conversations, especially among white folks. Slavery may have ended, but its shadow is long. On Juneteenth, we must confront the white supremacy that still infuses American public life.”
Juneteenth and the Cannabis Industry
Black-owned businesses are still being systematically denied financial investments in ways that throttle wealth creation for Black entrepreneurs and national productivity as a whole.
As an industry, we have an opportunity to support Black-owned cannabis companies as well as other small businesses. The cannabis industry can and SHOULD be speaking up more than ever about the social justice and racist issues that are intertwined in cannabis prohibition, considering companies are prospering off a market that many people (particularly Black people and other communities of color) are doing prison time for.
Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana (M4MM) is an excellent resource to learn from and support.
A May 2020 Annual Business Survey (ABS) done by the Census Bureau, which details characteristics of the country’s firms and their owners, noted that as of 2017, only 124,004 (2.2%) of the country’s 5.7 million businesses were Black-owned.
Black women are also underrepresented as business owners with less than 1% (one in 130) of the nation’s businesses in 2017, even though Black women made up 6.6% of the country’s population.
And, to make matters worse, according to the Brookings Institution, Black-owned small businesses earn much of their revenue in sectors that are particularly affected by the current COVID-19 recession while also being hardest hit by the pandemic.
Support Black CannaBusinesses
As the current climate has shifted our focus to the fight against racial injustices, now more than ever we all should have a heightened sense of awareness as to where we put our dollars.
“Shop small; the small black owned cannabis businesses need our attention the most. As African American herbalists, we know the struggles and risks it takes to become a marijuana business owner, let alone a black owner,” writes Tiana Purp, owner of The Higher Content blog.
Among well-known companies rooted in social equity and minority representation is Viola, founded by NBA veteran Al Harrington and led by CMO Ericka Pittman, the first African American female CMO of a multi-state cannabis operator.
Earlier this year, Viola launched its social equity program Viola Cares, which provides resources for the previously incarcerated due to nonviolent drug offenses.
In an effort to undo the negative effects the War on Drugs has had on communities of color, the Viola initiative has fully funded over 60 formerly cannabis-incarcerated individuals to transition into the legal cannabis business.
Harrington said recently that Viola’s aim is to turn 100 Black individuals into millionaires within the cannabis industry.
Here is a short list of information about Black owned cannabis companies to support….
Revolt Black News lists nine Black-owned cannabis companies.
Seven cannabis businesses owned by women of color are listed on 21ninety.com.
Here is an excellent online event happening as well…