WASHINGTON: For decades, people of color have paid a heavy price for the war on drugs. It’s well known that minorities are arrested and jailed at disproportionate rates on marijuana-related charges. But, now that recreational weed is legal in Washington, are those same people who were once likely to be racially profiled reaping the benefits of the industry of legal pot?
We cold-called 270 marijuana producers, processors and recreational retailers in Washington state to determine who exactly is running and being employed by these pot shops, and who is actually benefitting.
Out of the producers and processors we were able to make contact with, 110 provided employee demographic information consistent with what could be expected: The marijuana industry is mostly saturated with white males, many of whom are not only employed by businesses but also run them.
Despite marijuana’s newfound legality, for some people of color entering this business is understandably wary territory, if not entirely out of the question. The American Civil Liberty Union’s War on Marijuana report found that, “a Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates.”