Social equity programs support equal opportunity in the cannabis industry by making ownership and employment opportunities more accessible to people impacted by the criminalization of cannabis. Repeated so frequently, it’s a phrase on the verge of becoming a mere platitude. As cannabis reform spreads through the U.S., less than 10 percent of cannabis owners are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color).
Christine De La Rosa founded The People’s Group to change that. She wants to fix the issues she experienced first-hand in 2016 when she started her own cannabis business. She saw the potential in a fund that understands how to value and provide meaningful support to founders and their teams. Thus, The People’s Group announced a $50 million nationwide fund to create a more inclusive and diverse future and to break the pattern of oppression in the industry by investing in BIPOC- and women-led cannabis businesses.
“Through this fund, our objective is to break this cycle by supplying minority-owned cannabis companies with the capital they need to bring their companies to probability and the mentorship required to contribute to a more diverse cannabis industry,” said De La Rosa. “Our social equity initiatives will also shed light on unjust laws that have been disproportionately affecting minority communities.”
The mission is to deploy the fund’s total capital by 2024, allowing for the distribution of advisory, management services, and enhanced technology across diverse, competitive companies throughout the next decade.
The People’s Group is led, directed, and advised by BIPOC women, queer individuals, people with disabilities, veterans, and those with chronic illnesses. The People’s Group takes advantage of their intersectionality and representation on the inside to help community members on the outside. The fund emphasizes correcting the lack of social equity, capital, and investment opportunities in the industry. It aims to eliminate the barriers to prosperity while unlocking the most efficient pathways for cannabis professionals to see genuine profits.
By 2028, the cannabis market will become a $70 billion industry. Despite the attempts for equity clauses in reform measures across the country, BIPOC still struggle to enter the field.
“Recently, initiatives have been established to contribute to minority-owned cannabis business growth,” De La Rosa said. “However, many programs have failed due to the lack of access to capital, business spaces, and technical support provided to this demographic.”
TPG’s fund announcement comes along with many other individuals, companies, and organizations looking into better assisting BIPOC with entry into the cannabis industry. Last month, Viola joined forces with the Cleveland School of Cannabis to launch the Harrington Institute for Cannabis Education, which aims to provide equitable access to the cannabis industry by offering high-quality education to its community.
TPG will pursue new product and license investments, offer growth capital and debt facilities to shorten the transition to profitability, acquire off-market assets needing a cash infusion to become profitable, and provide an abundance of new job opportunities to community members.
“For over 50 years, lives have been taken, time has been lost, and communities have been devastated due to the disparate enforcement of policies attached to the War on Drugs. Use of the term ‘social equity’ must be more than a cliché,” said Frederika Easley, the director of strategic initiatives at the People’s Ecosystem. “We are committed to advocating for the creation and implementation of policies and practices that hold systems of power accountable and support the repairing of harm to individuals and communities.”