Marijuana legalization heralded the beginning of the end of America’s disastrous, racist War on Drugs. But an emerging cannabis market is abandoning the values of racial justice that in large part motivated those initial calls for legalization. White entrepreneurs are crowding out black and brown ones, with legislation in many parts of the country failing to provide for an inclusive, representative legal cannabis industry.
With more than 80 percent of legal cannabis companies under white ownership, black and brown Americans are struggling to break in. And while the exclusion and underrepresentation of people of color are certainly characteristic of the American economy more broadly, marijuana’s historical significance makes this inequality particularly troublesome.