Is There a Role for African Americans in the Booming Marijuana Industry?

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April 24, 2014 - By Yolande Cadore

In the wake of marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado, advocates in the African American community are asking a very timely question: is there a role for African Americans in the emerging marijuana industry, an industry that is currently dominated by white men?

Answering this question is a first step in reconciling the harms done to young black men and other people of color by prohibition and the opportunities that arise in the age of marijuana legalization.

In a recent teleconference hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance, Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, voiced a concern that the recent wins in Washington and Colorado are not just about looking forward to the end of marijuana prohibition but also an opportunity to look back and extend a hand to the many young men and women socially and economically stuck in their tracks because of a criminal conviction for marijuana.

Alexander called for those who are reaping the benefits of marijuana legalization to consider the sacrifices made by young men of color that allows those marijuana “pioneers” to now reap the benefits of marijuana legalization.

In a recent piece on the Grio, my colleague Art Way amplifies the call by Alexander that African Americans cannot be left at the sidelines as the marijuana industry becomes an economic reality.

You can read Art’s piece over at the Grio by clicking here. I’m very happy we are starting to have this conversation.

Yolande Cadore is the director of Strategic Partnerships for the Drug Policy Alliance.

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