Grow, Gift, Repair

Where are the black and brown folks in this industry?

According to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, 3.1 percent of the 224 businesses in the state’s regulatory system are owned by minorities, 2.2 percent are owned by women and a 1.8 percent are owned by LGBT people.

Meanwhile, 85.3 percent are owned by someone not identifying as a disadvantaged business enterprise, meaning they most likely are run by white males.

Minority workers in the marijuana industry – whether they be executives, board members, managers, employees or volunteers – are also hard to find in the industry. According to the CCC, 73 percent of the state’s marijuana workers are white, as of Dec. 13. The next largest group in the industry is Latinos at 6.4 percent. African Americans make up 4.2 percent of workers.

Before marijuana was legal to sell and possess in Massachusetts, minorities played a disproportionately large role in the cannabis industry, based on arrest records. But now with the industry legalized, nearly all the businesses are run by rich white men, and their workforces skew disproportionately white.

To combat this trend, state marijuana officials have crafted a new program meant to include more minorities and people impacted by the War on Drugs in the legal industry. Cities like Boston and Somerville have at least discussed setting benchmarks to give a certain portion of licenses to a diverse groups of applicants. However, Worcester – with its large minority population – has not set such benchmarks.