The marijuana industry in Colorado recently achieved a compelling feat that state officials called a wildly important goal. Diversity among business owners in Colorado’s cannabis market has been rising rapidly and managed to hit state targets well before schedule.
Despite this incredible milestone, data shows that there is still a long way to go before marijuana business ownership is proportionate to the state’s demographics.
According to the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), total minority ownership of cannabis enterprises in Colorado reached 16.9% as of January 1, 2022.
Officials of the MED had only projected the number of minority businesses in the cannabis market to get to about 15.8% at the beginning of this year.
They didn’t expect to see these figures until June 30 this year. What’s more, the state also approved 50 social equity licenses for communities negatively impacted by prohibition.
Although this milestone is a significant step in the right direction for Colorado’s cannabis market, it’s also an inherently small effort towards getting the industry to where it should be.
A considerable percentage of cannabis business owners in the state belongs to white males. There are 25,445 male owners and employees in Colorado’s cannabis market out of a total of 43,670 people.
Furthermore, out of the 26,949 players in the industry who self-identified their race, 18,208 were Caucasian. About 16,721 people chose not to specify their ethnicity.
Colorado is one of the states that initiated the recreational consumption of cannabis in the United States and is spearheading cannabis-related education by launching a marijuana certificate program.
For this reason, the state has been under high pressure to ensure that the industry is equitable and beneficial to the victims of wrongful criminalization.
Industry leaders like Shaleen Title, a former cannabis regulator and current CEO of the Parabola Center, believe that Colorado is demonstrating that marijuana law reforms that are equitable are successful.
With white males occupying a significant portion of Colorado’s cannabis industry, the state’s Governor, Jared Polis, has his work cut out for him.
Even so, he has seemingly risen to the occasion and made several moves that complement his support for the marijuana industry beyond licensing. Perhaps one of the most notable actions Polis has taken is pardoning defendants who have been convicted of marijuana possession.
Colorado cannabis business owners from ethnic minority groups believe that the discrepancy in ownership demographics comes from a former law prohibiting people with felony drug charges from owning weed dispensaries.
The ordinance discouraged visionaries and potential cannabis entrepreneurs from venturing into the field and led to the imbalance of ownership of firms in the weed industry.
Even so, there have been numerous steps in the right direction for diversity in Colorado’s cannabis industry.
Although the progress may be slow, it’s only a matter of time before more people of color start getting dispensary supplies for their cannabis ventures.