Black Cannabis Week is returning for the second year in a row between September 19-26, 2021. The goal of the event is to provide a variety of educational seminars and services for people of color, and push for improved social equity in the industry.
“We have long been an integral part of the cannabis industry from labor to creators. These roles have garnered little to no attention or regard,” the Black Cannabis Week website states. “During this week, we will educate, celebrate and elevate Blacks in cannabis. Black Cannabis Week (BCW21) is a collective web of educational and informational experiences to empower Black communities to move toward social and political change. In collective work, we aim to educate, destigmatize and advance the efforts of social justice.”
The event is being held as a collaborative effort along with the Diasporic Alliance for Cannabis Opportunities (DACO), Minorities for Medical Marijuana and Philadelphia Cannabis Business Association, and other cannabis groups. Among the event’s offerings, it will feature a political round table with Pennsylvania Senator Sharif Street, who will speak on new cannabis regulations. An estimated 30 speakers will be present to cover a variety of educational topics, including a hempcrete workshop, free cannabis certifications, expungement services and networking opportunities.
According to Cherron Perry-Thomas, who’s also a DACO Social Impact Strategist and the founder of the Cannabis Opportunities Conference, Black Cannabis Week is dedicated to helping Black cannabis entrepreneurs stake their claim in the industry.
“Black and Brown communities have been an afterthought in the evolving global cannabis industry,” Perry-Thomas said in a press release. “If we fail to prepare and learn now, we will be too far behind to enter into this emerging field. It’s imperative that we learn the facts about cannabis, the unjust laws that have created the stigma, explore opportunities for empowerment, and reduce the barriers to help more Black and Brown communities switch from consumers to decision makers which is our mission with Black Cannabis Week.”
Although most of the event will be held digitally, those who live in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area can visit Temple University to attend a Communities of Color Career Event and expungement fair in person.
“The cannabis industry has been on track to grow into a favorable financial and social tool for change,” the Black Cannabis Week Instagram posted on September 7. “Entrepreneurship, jobs, innovation are just a few of the positive impacts resulting from an accessible and inclusive industry. The industry has provided all kinds of new positions, and many of them are high-paying. And as the cannabis industry grows, so, too, does the number of job openings in the field.”
Supporting events such as Black Cannabis Week is essential to cultivate opportunities for non-white cannabis entrepreneurs to participate in the industry. According to a 2017 survey conducted by Marijuana Business Daily, 81 percent of cannabis business owners are white. At the time of the survey, only 5.7 percent were Hispanic/Latino; 4.3 percent were Black, and 2.4 percent were Asian.
Efforts to improve social equity in the United States continue to grow as well. The Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency has launched a new program called the Joint Ventures Pathway Program to improve social equity in the state. Social Equity classes have been established in Arizona for those who are eligible for dispensary licenses.
Organizations such as the California Cannabis Equity Alliance are demanding that social equity remain a focus as the industry continues to ramp up. These are just a few of the many examples of how advocates are fighting for social equity, but there’s still plenty of progress to be made.