Opinion

Promoting Diversity in the CBD & Cannabis Industry

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Written by Derek Johnson

Cannabis legalization is an important and long overdue movement revolutionizing the world markets and society. However, without conscious efforts on the part of the movers and shakers in the industry, cannabis normalization will result in the perpetuation of many of the negative characteristics and trends that have plagued practically every other market and industry–most notably, a lack of diversity.

In practically every industry, from academia to journalism to tech, all minorities, including African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, women, and Asian Americans, are severely underrepresented and have been for decades. And now that the cannabis industry has come online (particularly the cannabidiol, CBD, industry given the fact that it is federally legal in the US), it is falling into this same pattern of monoculturalism.

Fortunately, there are players in the CBD and cannabis industry who are working to increase diversity in this burgeoning marketplace. Kevin Ford, CEO of Uplift, is one of them.

Uplift is a company that provides comprehensive information for those looking for answers regarding Maryland’s medical cannabis program. It also works fervently to help diversify the industry and remove the stigma minorities face when trying to become cannapreneurs.

This stigma is a by-product of the failed War on Drugs, which disproportionately slapped people of color with criminal records compared to White Americans. And it’s these criminal records that are preventing minorities from joining the green rush.

In 2018, Uplift received one of five minority-training grants given out by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. In a state like Maryland, these funds are needed to help boost minority involvement in the cannabis sphere. Currently, only 10% of investors in Maryland cannabis are minorities. Additionally, as of May 2020, only two of the cultivation licenses given out in the state were held by minorities.

This disturbing trend is found nationwide, which is why Ford wants to expand his group’s efforts outside of Maryland.

“It’s truly our goal to move from a statewide platform to more of a national platform so that minorities everywhere can get the support that they need to go about applying for these licenses or looking for employment,” said Ford in an interview with Benzinga.

With efforts from companies like Uplift, the nationwide CBD industry can become a more diversity and the rich industry.

Image Credit: Gerd Altmann

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/diversity-people-heads-humans-5582454/

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Derek Johnson

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