Diversity remains an issue in most industries, and marijuana is no exception. Though women and people of color hold more positions of significance within the marijuana industry compared to others, these figures are still startlingly low. Massachusetts legislators have enacted laws to address this disparity, and commissioned a study in the state that will be paying close attention to gender and racial inequalities in marijuana. Here’s what we know about their study, and what it could mean for equality in weed.
Gender and Racial Inequality Prevail In Marijuana
Nowadays, when it comes to gender and race, marijuana isn’t so different from other industries. Last year, Marijuana Business Daily published a report on “Women and Minorities in the Marijuana Industry.” In it, data analyst Eli McVey shares some shocking findings.
Last year, women held only 26.9 percent of executive positions in cannabis. Across all industries nationwide, women hold a slightly lower 23 percent of executive roles. Even more concerning, women are occupying fewer and fewer position of power in marijuana. The study found that in 2015, 36 percent of executive positions holders were female.
A nine percentage point decrease over two years is not insignificant.
Minorities also hold more executive positions in the marijuana industry than on average, nationally. In 2017, people of color occupied 17 percent of these roles. In other industries, it averaged to a low 13 percent.
The largest area of minority involvement is in wholesale cultivation at over 24 percent. California, a relatively diverse state with a large population, allows wholesale cultivation while others do not.
Business, As Usual, Is Bad For Women and Minorities
These figures are more dismal than they appear. McVey elaborated on his findings to High Times, “There’s a difference between executives and owners. I think [that’s] the real rub for many in the industry.” Though women and minorities may be able to find positions within existing companies, they often don’t have the capital for licensing fees or startup costs.
This is just one of the many ways that the mainstream marijuana movement is exclusionary. Now that marijuana is big business, it’s attracting male executives from other industries. This can translate to all-too-familiar gender and racial disparities.
While some people prosper, others are pushed aside. Legal marijuana is also crushing small businesses that predate legalization. Kayvan Khalatbari of the Minority Cannabis Business Association explained to High Times, “We have to consider the fact we’re taking jobs away from these folks on the street who have been arrested.”
Not only are male-dominated industries seeping into legal weed, but the legacy of the War on Drugs bars…