Social equity is a serious issue for the cannabis industry. Essentially, it just distills down to making up for the many harms that the racist war on drugs has caused people of color, their families, and their communities over the years. Social equity seeks to reduce the disproportionate impact of prohibition by ensuring that no one is left behind as cannabis becomes a powerful, lucrative, legal industry.
As the federal government and local and state iterations continue to struggle to create effective social equity policies, there is plenty the industry can do in the meantime. Why should you bother?
Because up to 70 percent of customers, a 66% increase, want brands to take a stand when it comes to social and political issues. Customers like to buy from brands that align with their values and take a stand, because they hold more power to affect change.
So here are some basic steps cannabis brands can take to help support businesses owned by members of marginalized communities and ensure that the regulated cannabis market is equitable and inclusive.
Partner with Job Programs
Cannabis convictions and even arrests can function as serious barriers in anyone’s life. They can affect education, housing, and career opportunities. Cannabis brands can help by partnering with local, state, and national organizations and programs that create job opportunities for under-served communities via cannabis employment and ownership—including the formerly incarcerated.
Access Social Equity Funds, Where Available
Social equity funds invest in diverse cannabis entrepreneurs who want to launch their own cannabis brands and dispensaries. They often operate in states where there are a limited number of available medical cannabis licenses to provide initial financing capitalization. This assists people who might historically have less access to capital with high costs for things like licensing, store build-out, initial inventory investment, and working capital.