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It’s Time to Listen

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Oregon-based Black Studies educator and writer, Walidah Imarisha, wrote that Oregon was “founded as a racist white utopia,” and after over a week of protests following the death of George Floyd, I’m inclined to believe that we are closer to those roots than most of us are comfortable admitting.

I originally wrote a piece for this column entitled, “Cannabis Community to Black Lives Matter Movement: Your Fight is Our Fight,” thinking I was supporting the #blacklivesmatter cause by arguing the case to our almost exclusively white cannabis community.I concluded the piece and asked my wife to read it. Within  moments, her face turned. “I don’t think you should submit this. It’s not your time to talk.” As a white guy in weed, it became immediately clear that I needed to eat the humble pie right then and there.

Instead, here are some statistics put together by organizations and individuals who are more fit to speak on this matter than I currently am. These stats say it better than I could.

From a 2020 ACLU Report:Nationwide, black people are 3.6 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana, despite similar usage rates.

Some stats from the NAACP Criminal Justice Facts Sheet:

  • African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites.
  • Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.
  • In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 17 million whites and 4 million African Americans reported having used an illicit drug within the last month.
  • African Americans and whites use drugs at similar rates, but the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of whites.
  • A criminal record can reduce the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent. The negative impact of a criminal record is twice as large for African American applicants.
  • Spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of spending on Pre‐K‐12 public education in the last thirty years.

From DrugWarFacts.org:

  • About 2.5% of black male U.S. residents were in state or federal prison on December 31, 2016
  • Black males ages 18 to 19 were 11.8 times more likely to be imprisoned than white males of the same age. This age group had the highest black-to-white racial disparity in 2016.
  • At year-end 2016, an estimated 7% of non-Hispanic white males in state and federal prison were ages 18 to 24, compared to 13% of non-Hispanic black males and 12% of Hispanic males.

From @itsnicepaper:

  • $40B+ … Estimated cannabis market by 2020
  • $775k … Startup costs for dispensaries
  • 55M               … Americans regularly using weed
  • 50/50 … Usage rate between BIPOC & whites
  • 4x                … Rate @ which black people are arrested for cannabis over white people
  • 5-8.5x … Rate @ which black people jare arrested for weed over white people in IA, DC, MN & IL
  • $39B … Value of US prison industry (the US is the only country with a for-profit prison system)
  • 81% … White-Owned cannabis businesses
  • 3% … Black owned cannabis businesses


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