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The cannabis industry is booming, but for many Black Americans the price of entry is steep

Social equity rules can reduce barriers to entry for communities most affected by discriminatory drug laws

While Bernard Noble sat in a Louisiana jail riding out a 13-year sentence for possession of 2.8 grams of marijuana, cannabis legalization and decriminalization swept through the United States. With no chance of parole under Louisiana’s “habitual offender” law – he had been arrested for possession of cocaine and marijuana in the past – Noble became a symbol for the movement to reform discriminatory drug laws.

Cannabis is a booming industry and the Covid-19 pandemic has, if anything, helped. The legal cannabis industry now accounts for 321,000 full-time jobs across the 37 states with legal medical or adult use markets, according to the cannabis information site Leafly’s 2020 jobs report. This past year, when much of the country was still reeling from Covid, the cannabis industry added 77,300 jobs, with US sales hitting $18.3bn. The result is a 32% increase in year-over-year growth – creating jobs at a faster rate than any other industry in the United States.

But for many Black Americans – who are close to four times as likely to be arrested for cannabis charges as white people – the prospect of generating wealth through the cannabis industry is out of reach. [Read [email protected] The Guardian]

 

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