Only on 10: A new partnership hopes to create greater cannabis equity for people of color

Marijuana in Virginia

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — As marijuana laws changed in the commonwealth earlier this year, organizations are coming together to make this completely new, legal business more accessible and equitable for the communities impacted most by its prohibition in the past.

The partnership between Columbia Care, BIPOCANN, Virginia Minority Cannabis Coalition and Nolef Turn serves as a way to educate about emerging opportunities for ownership and employment in the cannabis industry.

Sheba Williams from Nolef Turn says one of the main goals of the partnership is to create more social equity in the cannabis industry.

“The biggest goal is educating people, centering people in this legislation because there are people who are still sitting in jails and prisons for cannabis-related offenses,” she said.

Ernest Toney from BIPOCANN says one of his main goals in the partnership and in BIPOCANN is giving people of color business opportunities in the emerging industry.

“The people who are paying these penalties come from communities of color,” he said. “When you take a look at the industry, which is a multi-billion dollar industry, and you have less than 4% of Black ownership.”

Experts say cannabis presents many overlooked chances for new jobs and investment as a new industry.

Paul McLean from Virginia Minority Cannabis Coalition says it’s all about inclusion.

“You have jobs for college educated people with advanced degrees, regular four-year degrees, two-year associate’s degrees, no degree all the way down to a person that might have dropped out of high school,” he said.

Aside from entrepreneurship, those involved also hope to continue to fight for those currently serving cannabis-related sentences.

“What better way to do it than to have some experts who can help with actually helping those people get into the business side of things to start the process of erasing those harms,” said Williams.

At the end of the day, the main goal for these organizations is to create more cannabis equity for communities of color. 

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