Social Inequity In The Cannabis Industry: A Call For Change

Social inequity is a serious problem within the cannabis industry. And if you weren’t aware, welcome to the table. The cannabis industry is booming and the continued legalization is creating new economic opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. Here’s the thing, those opportunities aren’t being offered to all Americans. 


Despite the legalization of marijuana in 23 states, when it comes to the fastest growing industry in the U.S., social inequity not only still exists but it downright prevails in some places. Compliant Packaging is not one of those places. We are proud to say that we strongly believe in acceptance to all people within the cannabis industry. 


This strong belief inspired us to create our own social equity program within our own company. We offer a discount for social equity license holders and we donate 5% of those sales to the NUProject


But, no matter how much we do our part the question still remains of how we can push social equity forward in an industry that has so much upside potential—economically and socially. 

how can we promote social equity in the cannabis industry?

People from marginalized groups too often face obstacles to entry into the cannabis industry. This includes higher licensing fees, restrictive zoning laws and a difficult time obtaining capital. Why is this? Some would argue that it’s mere coincidence that BIPOC businesses aren’t well represented in the cannabis industry. We would rather decipher hard data to tell the real story. 

This is not a coincidence. The states who have implemented their own social equity programs simply have fallen short and unfortunately decades upon decades of systemic discrimination simply won’t vanish with a well intentioned program. Until we create a truly equitable cannabis industry and work toward a strategic shift toward policies that genuinely support social equity operators by tackling financial barriers and fostering entrepreneurship, we will not see the change we want.


Obviously with barriers to even getting into the cannabis industry and being able to contribute in a meaningful way, there are a lot of individuals who simply choose to withdraw. 


This, plus the fact that they are being discriminated against has led to severe misrepresentation within our industry. This is why we are throwing our support toward the NU Project whose programs increase the chances for cannabis entrepreneurs and professionals of color to be successful. They are working to remove the hurdles like lack of capital, education, and connection issues that have historically excluded communities when starting a business. 


One way we can help push past this is by providing access to capital that is actually affordable. Financial institutions should be specifically designed to support social equity entrepreneurs within the cannabis industry. This means lower-interest rates on loans, grants and mentor programs. Also, offering business support that these young companies need to succeed such as networking opportunities and getting in front of the right people. 


This right here is a big one, but if practices continue against BIPOC without being challenged in any way, it will continue to plague not only our industry but our communities across the nation. We are talking about workplace culture, inclusion, and more people advocating for social equity programs within the industry. And not just social equity programs for the sake of saying ‘we have a social equity program’. 


The accountability doesn’t stop with blatant discrimination but we have to be looking at the people putting the lipstick on the pig. Just because states have passed social equity programs and laws doesn’t mean they’re working. Take California for example. Los Angeles did a lottery in 2019 that was tied up in litigation for two years and has had very few of the 300 SE dispensary licenses actualized. 


Going back to the drawing board to fix everything that has failed is a brave thing to do. Our question is who will help lead the charge? 


The cannabis industry is a powerful force for change. We can use this industry to create a more equitable society by ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to participate in and benefit from it. And we say everyone. We mean EVERYONE.

inequity in cannabis industry

Compliant packaging believes in acceptance and is here to support bipoc within the cannabis industry

The cannabis industry is a part of our DNA. We love offering unique solutions for cannabis packaging and providing our extensive experience to promote brands who need us. Our team at Compliant Packaging is ready to meet you and help create specific packaging solutions unique to your product. We help the public recognize your brand above all others. 


If you need cannabis packaging solutions, we’re here for you! Reach out to us! 

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