Okay, I admit, I’m a bit of an idiot.
Why, might you ask? (if you’re not already nodding your head in earnest agreement).
Well for starters, here I am, professing to everyone I come across about how I’m working tirelessly on a website that speaks to cannabis culture– specifically within the California Bay Area, and here I go forgetting to remind you all about one of the biggest marijuana investor events in the country.
Why is this even important?
Well, it’s not a huge deal to miss a story of this type. It’s fairly low-key, nothing you couldn’t have found out about on Social Media. But the probable fact remains that you likely have no idea on how to invest in or enter the newly burgeoning marijuana industry. This goes double if you happen to be Black, Latino or Asian. In fact, if you happen to fit any of those demographics (especially Latino and Black) you’re more likely to be arrested for weed than to ever sell it legally.
Let’s look at some facts:
Of the 452 people arrested for marijuana offenses in 2011 in Oakland, 74.5 percent were African-American, 13 percent were Latino, 5 percent were white, 3.7 percent were Asian-American, and 0.4 percent were Native American. According to 2010 census data, Oakland’s population is 28.0 percent black, 25.9 percent white, and 25.4 percent Latino.
In 2013, 527 people were busted (cited or arrested) for some kind of marijuana crime, according to the Oakland Police Department. Of those, 483 were either black or Latino, according to an OPD report given to that city’s Cannabis Regulatory Committee last summer. That’s a staggering 91.6 percent.
Only arrest stats, not citations, were available for police departments in San Francisco and San Jose, making an apples-to-apples comparison impossible. When only comparing arrests, however, there were 159 felony or misdemeanor marijuana arrests made by the Oakland Police Department in 2013. Of those, 141 were black or Latino — 88.6 percent, according to Justice Department data.
Now check this out. Compared to San Francisco and San Jose (in the West and South bays respectively), 243 and 272 people were arrested for marijuana crimes. Of these, about 40 percent and 73.3 percent of the arrests for marijuana crimes fell under the category of blacks or Latinos, respectively.
To put that into greater content, San Jose is 33.2 percent Latino, according to Census figures. There, 64 percent of cannabis busts were of Latinos alone.
It doesn’t take a math whiz to see we folks of color are getting screwed royally while others are profiting–greatly.
For example, in Denver, Colorado, where marijuana was legalized for recreational purposes (on the State level) on December 10, 2012, white males make up nearly two-thirds (58 percent) of dispensary license holders despite making up just 35 percent of Colorado’s total population.
Overall, whites made up a total of 84 percent of dispensary ownership while female dispensary owners comprised a paltry 24 percent of dispensary ownership—and every single one of the women is white.
When it comes to folks actively fighting to reform marijuana laws, the demographics are even more startling.
Sixteen of 19 members of the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) are white dudes. The influential Marijuana Policy Project counts white males as six of its nine key staff.
With folks of color accounting for over 600,000 drug-related arrests a year I say this is complete bullshit.
That’s why I am so disappointed in myself that I didn’t inform folks of color about last weeks Marijuana Investor Summit as it graced San Francisco. White males typically account for over 90% of attendees at these events, while Black and Latino males account for over half of the prison population in California.
With that type of representation, our presence in the growing marijuana industry is not only necessary, it’s critical.
Hi, my name is Petey Wheatstraw. I’m an avid marijuana smoker, writer, devoted father and non-profit minion– not necessarily in that order. A Chicago native I’ve lived in the Bay Area since 1996.