How cannabis business owners can advance social equity

Published May 15, 2021 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Radachynskyi

Social equity policies are taking front and center stage as we recognize the importance of a healthy, inclusive community and industry. It’s the buzz term of 2021, and rightly so, especially when it comes to cannabis, as we’ve witnessed first-hand the destruction that the war on drugs has had on marginalized communities, a plague that has yet to be lifted.

Social equality is the end goal, but for now, we need to focus on championing social equity policies, and cannabis business owners can help with that by making changes and investments to show their commitment to the cause.

Equality vs equity

These two terms get confused and used interchangeably, but they mean two very different things that just happen to be deeply connected. Social equity references the overall fairness of general social policies, whereas social equality means that everyone involved has an equal chance to grow or access opportunities. Social equity policies are typically related to things like education and public administration, but its scope reaches even further than that.

How cannabis business owners can advance social equity

As a successful business owner who is on a path towards a lucrative future, it should be a priority to lift up employees as much as possible, in particular those who have been most significantly impacted by the war on drugs. That might sound like a big task, but with these small changes, it’s entirely possible to make waves in communities that need it the most.

Maintain stock of minority-owned cannabis brands

Woman and black-owned cannabis brands are seriously marginalized, representing only a tiny fraction of the industry while making up a large portion of consumers. It’s clearly an unfair playing field, one that green businesses can help to level by clearing shelf space for brands and products that are created or designed by minorities.

Make education a priority for employees

As an employer, you should want your employees to succeed, and we know that one way to ensure prosperity is to continue education. Unfortunately, many in marginalized communities feel the need to drop out of school or avoid higher education, as it’s an expense of time and money that far too many can’t afford. You can help to fix this by offering small credits or bursaries for completed courses, which will open doors for those who are most impacted by discrimination.

Use inclusive hiring practices

Hire local or turn abroad to find the most well-suited minds for the task, but no matter where you turn, do so with an inclusive spirit in mind. LGBQ and black community members are struggling to find fair and equal employment activities through no fault of their own. As a business owner, you need to make it your goal to find those who deserve the job the most, regardless of orientation or background.

Make donations to organizations that aid marginalized communities

In order for us to see real social equality come to light, we’re going to have to work hard to make up for the many injustices that have been caused by the war on drugs, something that marginalized communities feel the most. Whether you choose to run a program that helps these people directly or you raise money for organizations that will do the hard work for us, it will be an incredible investment in our children's future that you will never regret.

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