Opening The Discussion For Cannabis Reparations

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It only requires seeing eyes to notice that Oregon has turned into a cannabis playground with dispensaries on almost every block in some areas (345 dispensaries in the whole state as of 2017 (Saivant)), CBD infused drinks at your local grocery stores, and every 21+ person walking around with a dab pen. The Herb and all its qualities have taken over Oregon for better or worse.

If you look around you will notice that most of these Cannabis owned companies are owned by caucasian people and that those who got put in jail over 5 years ago when the plant was still criminalized are still sitting in their cells, unable to join the growing industry that took their livelihoods away.

A survey conducted by Marijuana Business Daily found that out of 389 self identified cannabis business owners, 81% were white, 5.7% were Hispanic/Latino, and 4.3% African American; if you compiled all minority groups together, they would only own 19% of the industry. A separate survey at a later date got responses from 567 self identified owners and found that only 17% of minorities hold executive positions in the cannabis industry. The ratios speak for themselves- if you want to work in the biz, you gotta create your own, and not many have the resources for those kinds of outcomes.

Some states such as California are clearing the records of those with non-violent drug offences with goals to reduce or clear all eligible convictions by 2020 (LA Times). This is especially helpful since minorities are disproportionately jailed for non-violent drug offences. In Oregon specifically, Black people are 2.1 times more likely than white people to get arrested for marijuana possession (ACLU). Lane, Multnomah and Washington counties have this ratio even further skewed with numbers as high as 3.5x more likely (ACLU).

Although a clean record erases some of the hurdles of joining the workforce, it doesn’t help get back that time or even promise an opportunity. The time is now to discuss offering reparations to those who were jailed for cannabis related crimes; yes it needs to be discussed on the grander scale first and foremost but that is for another article. The records of these people need to be cleared, they need to be offered a monthly stipend to counteract the time they spent in jail, and several resources should be offered to them to help improve their entrepreneurship/ assist in getting them involved in the industry.

It is apparent that the previous laws targeted predominantly black and brown people (see ACLU statistics above). Something that once caused them to be jailed is now being revered as a new miracle drug and allowing those that jailed them to succeed while continuing to shut them out of said industry. What we are seeing today is the gentrification of Cannabis and until we acknowledge that and make strides to make a more equitable industry, there will be a disproportionate amount of white men- only 27% of women are executives own the cannabis industry (mjbizdaily)- who dominate the market.


Resources:

https://www.trendstatistics.com/health/6-medical-marijauna-facts-infographic-cannabis-statistics-2016

https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-la-county-marijuana-convictions-20190401-story.html

https://aclu-or.org/sites/default/files/ACLU_ArrestsByRace.pdf

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About Author

Alecya Krivolenkov

Alecya is an Oregon native and Portland State alumni. She is a cannabis, food, and sex education enthusiast. If she’s not in the kitchen whipping up a new recipe, you can find her in the garden trying to grow something for next harvest or in front of the TV binging the latest and greatest. She aspires to write her own cookbook as well as open a multi-facility clinic for sexual trauma survivors. You can follow her cooking on instagram: @kushaipdx

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