As righteous protests, riots and looting (I use all three words to emphasize my support for each action) grip the United States and the world I want to acknowledge the debt the cannabis industry owes to black lives.
I had been an active (now mostly passive) part of the Canadian cannabis industry for several years, during this time I and others took small steps (hosting an event with Cannabis Amnesty and promoting their work) to acknowledge the injustice of profiting off a product that many black and indigenous people remain imprisoned for has indirectly cost countless lives from those communities. It’s hard to qualify these small steps as anything more than the bare minimum.
Now that police brutality and the role race plays in that brutality is once again unavoidable, it should also be unavoidable to recognize the role cannabis has played for decades in the brutality of police against black people.
We have started to see and will continue to see token gestures in statements and financial donations form cannabis companies and their executives, I’m afraid this will again be the bare minimum and ignore the the underlying tension. The bare minimum is unfortunately a necessity of a profit driven company, especially publicly traded ones, despite claims of going above and beyond, the above and beyond is a financial calculation. As a friend of mine likes to say “there is no market solution” to this type of injustice. The governments which create the laws that allow people with one skin colour to profit of the same plants that people of another skin colour are imprisoned for, are the only bodies capable of restorative justice.
I’m not going to weigh into potential policy solutions as it’s hard to see any solution for the cannabis industry creating meaningful change without broader reforms. But I will say it’s about time people other than executives get to loot.