Now here’s the bad news for the black community. Because of the decades-long disproportionate targeting of blacks during the drug war, there is a shortage of eligible entrepreneurs of color to become owners within the industry.
In California, where the marijuana industry is more of an open market, all you need to start growing is a previous admission into a dispensary.
“The problem is most of these guys have no training. They read a magazine, figure they’re good to go, begin growing it in their basement or some facility then take the product to a dispensary.”
He says in California you tend to see some African-American growers although nowhere near the number of white or Hispanic growers.
But as you travel further east those numbers start to dwindle. About 5% of the people cultivating in Southern California are black. Further east the number of sophisticated, cultivated growers are slim to none.
In DC, the laws are tougher. Before even getting hired by a cultivator, you need approval from the Health department and a background check. You can’t have drug related felony charges or misdemeanor federal charges.
Barnette says, “All of the black people who work in the industry work for my company. You get one person that says he’s been growing for ten years and another who’s been growing ten years but had a drug charge five years ago, the only difference is that one got caught and the other one didn’t”.
This prevents blacks from being able to grow, finding employment, and becoming owners. They’re forced to either grow for personal consumption or sell on the unregulated market.
Barnette’s advice for eligible African Americans looking to get in?
“Develop relationships. Be willing to learn the trade. Take time to learn the laws in your state or city. And develop a relationship with existing owners”.