Black-owned cannabis organization to support right now. Photo credit: Envato.
Juneteenth is often recognized as America’s second independence Day. The holiday, which Congress officially established as a federal holiday just this week, falls on June 19th each year.
What is Juneteenth?
In 1963, President Abraham Lincoln introduced the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in Confederate states. However, “not everyone in Confederate territory would immediately be free,” reports the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).
America was in the throes of the Civil War. Consequently, the Union did not have the power to enforce the Proclamation — not for roughly another two years later. According to NPR:
“On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, who had fought for the Union, led a force of soldiers to Galveston, Texas, to deliver a very important message: the war was finally over, the Union had won, and it now had the manpower to enforce the end of slavery.”
To celebrate and honor the freedom many gained that day, African Americans have observed Juneteenth in many ways, from buying land, to creating art and monuments, and raising awareness about voting rights for more than 150 years.
The New Jim Crow
Slavery did not end with the Civil War, nor did it end on June 19th, 1965. Instead, some argue, it took a new form.
In the South, codes known as Jim Crow made racial segregation legal after the Civil War, reports History: “The codes appeared throughout the South as a legal way to put Black citizens into indentured servitude, to take voting rights away, to control where they lived and how they traveled and to seize children for labor purposes.”
Modern day drug laws are the new Jim Crow, argues lawyer and author, Michelle Alexander in her book of a similar name, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The introduction of the War on Drugs presented a new form of slavery: incarceration, she explains. Specifically, she details how decades of prohibition work to target Black and Brown communities, creating a caste system and trapping millions in prisons.
Currently, law enforcement is nearly four times more likely to arrest Black Americans for cannabis offenses than white Americans — despite equal usage rates, finds the ACLU. In some regions of the U.S., it is higher.
As more states welcome legal cannabis, building equity remains a priority. While there are a variety of state or local social equity programs, there are also many organizations dedicated to uplifting people of color in the cannabis industry — some of which we’ve listed below.
15+ Black-Founded Organizations to Support Right Now
For more Black-founded organizations and businesses, visit Emerald’s list of 100+ Black-Owned Cannabis Businesses.
This Baltimore-based organization is focused on shattering both the stigma around cannabis, as well as the lack of diversity within the industry. Founded by Shanita Penny.
California Minority Alliance (CMA)
The CMA, based in L.A., is a non-profit trade organization founded by Virgil Grant and Donnie Anderson. CMA fights for the rights of minorities in the cannabis industry at both the citywide and state levels.
Cannabis Cultural Association (CCA)
Co-founded by Nelson Guerrero and Jake Plowden, the CCA works to educate people in English and in Spanish about the benefits of cannabis. The New York-based organization also emphasizes criminal justice reform and access to medical cannabis.
Cannabis Laws Matter Worldwide (CLM Worldwide)
The New Jersey-based nonprofit, previously known as Garden State NORML, focuses on advocacy, business, and education surrounding medical and adult-use cannabis for Black and Latinx members of the industry. Founded by activist and entrepreneur Charlana McKeithen.
Cannabisnoire in Philadelphia provides education, resources and opportunities to minorities and underrepresented groups within the cannabis industry. It was founded by Sheena M. Roberson.
Based in Chino, California, Club Kindness is an education program that focuses on teaching new and existing cannabis consumers how to use the plant in combination with other supportive therapies. Mskindness B. Ramirez founded it in 2015.
Copper House Detroit
Copper House Detroit is a bud and breakfast and event space for canna-activists. The home is located in the city’s “Northwest side, right off of the Avenue of Fashion, which has the highest concentration of Black-owned businesses in the US,” explains the organization’s website. Founded by Jess and Cara Jackson.
Higher Learning Institutions
Higher Learning is a Michigan-based vocation and technical school which provides hands-on training for low-income individuals. Founded by Sammie Rogers.
KindColorado promotes social responsibility in the cannabis industry. Founded by Kelly Perez and Courtney Mathis, who also co-founded Cannabis Doing Good — a campaign focused on purpose-driven cannabis — and the Cannabis Impact Fund — a nonprofit focused on raising awareness and support for racial justice.
Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM)
M4MM is a non-profit organization that works to help minorities within the medical cannabis industry. Founded by Roz McCarthy, M4MM offers a variety of advocacy, education, and training services.
Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA)
The MCBA was co-founded in 2014 by Jesce Horton and Tiffany Bowden. The association is a business league for industry members, and one of the first non-profit organizations created to progress the cannabis industry through increasing diversity.
Also founded by Jesce Horton, the project is “[…] unapologetically working to build generational wealth for Black and Brown people through the legal cannabis industry,” writes NuLeaf’s website.
Student Marijuana Alliance for Research and Transparency (SMART)
SMART was founded by Nadir Pearson as the hub for all things college cannabis. The alliance aims to inspire the next generation to look beyond stigma, and towards education, research, and professional development within the industry.
The Oakland-based organization offers events and services centered around Black women in cannabis. The group was formed in 2015 by Andrea Unsworth, Amber Senter, Tsion “Sunshine” Lencho, and Nina Parks.
The Hood Incubator
Also based in Oakland, The Hood Incubator was formed in 2016. The incubator’s mission is to build social and racial equality within the cannabis industry. Founded by Lanese Martin, Ebele Ifedigbo, Biseat Horning.
Uplift MD in Maryland is a cannabis education and training organization. The organization seeks to end the stigma in the community through diversity and inclusion. Founded by Kevin Ford, Jr.
For more Black-owned organizations and businesses, visit Emerald’s list of 100+ Black-Owned Cannabis Businesses.
Rachel Knox says
Two important organizations not on this list (one a Black founded medical association for BIPOC in cannabis) are ACHEM (Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine http://www.achemed.org) and CHEM Allyance (chemallyance.org), the first organizations built in coalition within the Cannabis Health Equity Movement.
Melissa Hutsell says
Thank you for reaching out! We’ve made sure both organizations are on our Conscious Consumption series: 100+ Black-Owned Cannabis Companies to Support Right Now https://theemeraldmagazine.com/conscious-consumption-100-black-owned-cannabis-businesses-to-support-right-now/