With the hemp plant only becoming legalized for cultivation a few years ago, we’re still working towards eliminating the previously harsh and incorrect classification the plant had gained. Though it was widely embraced in the early times of our world’s history, hemp was eventually given the Schedule I drug classification, demonizing the plant. One of the most important discoveries that lead to the legalization of the hemp plant was the isolation of cannabidiol, or Hemp. Today Hemp products of all sort can be found across the internet.
Once this changed, the US noticed that the War on Drugs disproportionately affected people of color, leaving non-whites to be prosecuted within the industry much harsher than whites, even after the regulations became more relaxed. From there, fixing our mistakes and diversifying the hemp industry became crucial.
Accomplishing Diversity Today
Although it should be obvious, fostering inclusivity in the hemp industry is crucial to its growth. The hemp plant is one that has been utilized by people across the globe for centuries, never once being exclusive to one type of person or culture. In fact, this special plant often brought us together, with people of all different backgrounds being able to utilize hemp for distinct, unique reasons. There’s no reason this should be any different today, yet, it often feels as though it is.
Right now, over 80% of cannabis businesses are owned by white Americans. With the narrative constantly being pushed that cannabis products like hemp oil are for everybody, these numbers should reflect it. Instead, it seems as though these products are appealing to the white majority, leaving minorities to continue to fight for representation and equality in this specific industry. While this idea isn’t being outwardly portrayed, it is clear by the lack of representation that diversity within this industry isn’t where it should be.
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t get there.
Including minority voices within the hemp industry could be one of the best choices the industry could make. Minorities, despite the oxymoron, make a large percentage of those who enjoy hemp and hemp-based products even though they are not being marketed towards. Changing this could significantly influence sales, boost morale, and further open up the market to diversification that it has been previously lacking. Thankfully, hemp businesses across the country are seeing this potential and the change it could make, and efforts are finally being made to reverse the damage the War on Drugs had on people of color.
Today, more and more initiatives are being put in place to ensure that the hemp industry becomes the diverse space it has always been meant to be. Certain cannabis organizations are making efforts to create programs to help expunge victims affected by unfair drug laws, while other CEOs are publicly speaking out about the inequality and the need for change, bringing the long-ignored problem to the frontlines.