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The Importance Of Diversity To The Cannabis Industry

By Roger Malespin  photo/Istock/jacoblund 

It’s common knowledge that the war on drugs is an abysmal failure many levels. Not only has it not stopped the consumers from wanting drugs, but it has been completely inefficient in keeping the drugs out of their hands. One of the worst effects of this failed drug war is the incarceration of millions of non-violent, low level and low risk drug offenders, most of whom are there on marijuana charges. The demographics of the incarcerated are overwhelmingly skewed against minorities. 

Because the burgeoning legal cannabis industry has high barriers, minorities generally are not able to start their own legal businesses. According to Dasheeda Dawson of, there are several ways diversifying the industry now would be a great benefit for all.

For starters, it exposes more consumers to the products. It may seem strange to some, but minority customers can feel judged or vulnerable when shopping in businesses for cannabis products because of stereotypes. Consumers will undoubtedly feel more comfortable by buying from people who can speak directly to them in a cultural context. Minority communities are a largely untapped market for the industry right now, and diversifying can certainly bring more of that capital to the industry. 

Additionally, it can broaden the perspective of the business landscape for investors. Because the minority population is largely untapped, the scope of the business landscape remains somewhat clouded. If the decision makers in the industry were able to tap into those communities better than the current ones can, everything from spending habits to prices can be affected for the better. As it stands now, their needs may be different from other consumers but we wouldn’t know.

Another reason can be chalked up to tried and true economics - diversifying increases sustainable growth. This principle works across the entire economic spectrum. Widening the availability to untapped communities would create a broader user base not only in ethnic demographics but economic brackets as well. Supporting the small businesses in those areas will increase sustainability and increase profits and consumer understanding.

These are just a few of the reasons why diversifying is essential for this industry. The profitability of the cannabis industry rose over 600% from 2015-16, and has shown increases every year since. In a February report by Nielsen, the estimated buying power of the Black community alone in this country is $1.2 trillion, and as the draconian anti marijuana laws continue to slowly crumble, they and other minority communities can be complete game changers for the entire industry.

The times of imprisoning millions of peaceful American citizens for morally and practically unjust laws are nearing an end. It’s a slow process, but one which cannot be reversed, even by someone as powerful and anti marijuana as the United States Attorney General. As cannabis and cannabis culture become more mainstream, empowering minority entrepreneurs can reverse some of harm prohibition has caused, and strengthen the industry so much that it’s hard to quantify. Diversifying is not just a win for minority communities, it’s a win for our entire industry.