merica has long been high on its own endless supply of hypocrisy. The “land of the free” has the largest prison population in the world; the “home of the brave” has elected a coward to the White House. The United States, it has become clear, is still a divided country with different rules for its different coloured citizens. And, arguably, nowhere are those double standards more bluntly black and white than when it comes to the corporatisation of cannabis.
In recent years, the US establishment has gone from piously advising people to Just Say No to drugs, to saying “yes, please” to profiting from pot. To date, eight states have legalised recreational cannabis. Some colleges, such as the University of Denver, have introduced Business of Marijuana courses into their curriculums. Hordes of bright, mainly white, young things have launched lucrative cannabis startups and there’s an interminable stream of trend pieces in the US media about everything from cannabis-kale to how “bud bars” are the fashionable new fixture at white weddings.
Blue-chip companies are also benefiting from the green rush: Scotts Miracle-Gro, a lawn-care company, saw its shares rise 31% last year, after buying up lots of companies that provide supplies for hydroponics, the favoured method of cultivating cannabis. Guess how many people of colour are on the Scotts leadership team? None.
So while legal marijuana money has started pouring into the US economy, there’s ample evidence that it’s largely white people profiting. A Buzzfeed investigation last year, for example, estimated only about 1% of the storefront marijuana dispensaries in the US are owned by black people. (The Guardian UK)