OFF THE BLOCK
Last night, I had a chance to watch the “Smoke” documentary on BET. Not much of the information was new, but still as appalling as when I first start really paying attention to the marijuana industry. However, it just made me think even deeper on the drug that is locking our black men away while the government and elites capitalize on the very same transaction.
Nickels and Dimes
The documentary mentioned a man from California, who is actually serving a life sentence for alleged marijuana sales. I’m willing to bet if you sold marijuana for your entire adult life, no one would imagine being imprisoned for life because of it. Especially now that the growing and retail of cannabis is legal in several states at this point. The necessity of releasing prisoners with minor, non-violent marijuana infractions is more than evident and it saddens me to see how slow legislation is moving to make this a reality. Of course in the grand scheme of things, it would be against the engine of systematic racism that most politicians and white privileged people ignore or claim ignorance. The documentary went on to acknowledge that the industry is easily making trillions with little to no representation of black owners of dispensaries or operating facilities. Yet, there are thousands behind bars for less than.
Some places, including Illinois have implemented legislation that does in fact release minor marijuana from prison with expunged records. This is definitely a move into the right direction. However, I want…no I need for there to be more. There is a lopsided scale consisting of black ownership and others. To unequivocally discern the appropriate measures to reconcile this difference, there must be a realistic opportunity for black owned business to acquire licenses to grow and sell marijuana. It is ridiculous to believe that there is an even playing field when the initial cost in some states to even apply for a license is about $20,000. Now you have an opportunity missed to change the trajectory of generational wealth. An opportunity that we no longer can afford to miss.
While several states have legalized recreational marijuana, it is still classified as “Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.” This means on a federal level it is still considered illegal. But, why? Great question. A question that no politician has been able to give a suitable answer. I think subconsciously we all know that the main reason is to be able to control the market and continue to control population by filling the prisons. Unfortunately, we are always the highest percentage of these incarcerations. A genuine move toward making weed legal federally and allowing better opportunities for black business owners to capitalize off of this burgeoning industry is what is needed. And we should be aggressively pushing this agenda. It is overly imperative for us to pressure local politicians to get our message to those who can make these legislative changes. The emergence of the cannabis industry is not much different than the end of prohibition, but this time we want to be able to create generational wealth as well.