Grow, Gift, Repair

Nice OP-ED on lack of diversity and consumer safety

“Having worked in the industry, I observed an environment consisting of mostly white male owners and employees. Minority and female employees were almost exclusively hired for trimming and packaging positions and rarely even caught a glimpse of the cultivation area. But it was dangled in front of them, as though the American dream was behind those doors. Believe me, dreams are not thriving in there.

In an article on MassLive, it was reported that ‘(CCC) Commissioner Britte McBride suggested that the commission needs to hire a research firm to gather data and study whether there are barriers to entry for these applicants, what they are and how to address them. Commissioners also discussed gathering data on what types of ancillary businesses are benefiting from the industry — for example, carpenters or lighting experts who build grow facilities.’

Hiring a research firm to figure out why those most negatively affected by marijuana when it was illegal are having a hard time launching a business in an arena of billionaire white men comes off as another waste of time. I can answer that for you — a long, hopeless and bankrupting battle against an already solidified white, commercial market is what’s holding them back.

As a consolation to all those shut out of the commercial cannabis industry, the CCC is considering limiting home delivery licenses to equity applicants. This would be like offering table scraps after promising a seat at the table. Commissioner Shaleen Title, who is essentially the one holding the weight of people’s hopes on her shoulders, is the only true cannabis advocate on the commission. She recently voiced her frustration with the other committee members, quoted by several media outlets as saying, ‘Enough talk about the equity applicants and what’s going wrong, it’s time to talk about concrete, tangible solutions moving forward.’

I believe Title to be very much with the people — and feel that without her, the last threads of hope for a diverse industry would die at the hands of the other members.

The recreational cannabis industry, as it currently stands, is built to devour those it aimed to help the most. Actual patients with real conditions, who may have finally opened up to treating themselves with cannabis, are now confused and intimidated by a marketplace driven by money, not compassion. Many will abandon the idea. Not even the social equity framework built into the state’s licensing regulations were able to slow businesses down from doing whatever they wanted.

The reality is, no one in power is watching out for the safety of the patients or protecting the vision of an equitable and diverse cannabis industry. So, we must protect ourselves.

To get involved in the fight for equity and equality in the cannabis industry, consider becoming a member of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council (MRCC), a group at the forefront of this battle.”