MJ Unpacked Takes Proactive Approach to Addressing Social Equity and Inclusion in Cannabis Industry

2.9 min readPublished On: April 6th, 2023By

NEW YORK–As MJ Unpacked, the premier event for the cannabis industry, gears up to take the stage in New York City from April 26-28, the East Coast cannabis market is poised for massive growth. However, despite the exciting prospects ahead, the industry faces significant challenges, particularly when it comes to issues of social equity and inclusion.

According to a report by research and advocacy center The Sentencing Project, Black Americans are five times more likely to be arrested for cannabis-related offenses than white people, despite similar usage rates. Furthermore, minority ownership in the cannabis industry is estimated to be only about 10%, half the number of minority-owned businesses in the general U.S. workplace.

Since its inception, MJ Unpacked has taken a proactive approach in addressing the disparities in the market by providing a platform for diverse voices and businesses to showcase their products, connect with investors and industry leaders, and drive meaningful conversations around diversity and inclusion in the cannabis industry.

At the forefront of their efforts is the MJ Unpacked Social Impact Scholarship, in partnership with Our Academy, a 501(3)c accelerator that supports BIPOC and justice-impacted cannabis entrepreneurs. The scholarship provides their members with participation, fundraising opportunities, travel stipends, and administrative support. Since the partnership began in fall 2021, dozens of brands have been provided with the opportunity to connect with investors, partners, and future clients.

This year, MJ Unpacked NYC 2023 will feature several brands from Our Academy, including ButACake, Canna House, Dose of Saucy, Elevated Infusions, Four Forty Eight, Queen Mary, SF Roots, Shebababy, Stash Queens, The High Priestess Herbal Wellness, and WISECO. This partnership is supported through generous contributions by Wana Brands Foundation, Dope CFO, New Leaf EA, DIZPOT, GroundGame NY LLC, Blackgarden Law, Clark Hill Plc, Unitec Laboratory Services, Longview Strategic, EisnerAmper and the White Ash Group.

Hilary Yu, Executive Director of Our Academy, stated, “Partnering with MJ Unpacked for the Social Impact Scholarship has been an incredible opportunity for Our Academy and our mentees. We are committed to supporting BIPOC-owned and justice-impacted cannabis entrepreneurs, and this partnership has allowed us to provide access to resources and opportunities that our members may not have otherwise had. We are grateful for the support from the MJ Unpacked team and their commitment to diversity and inclusion in the cannabis industry.”

In addition to the scholarship, MJ Unpacked is partnering with Oaksterdam University and the Connecticut Social Equity Council Cannabis Business Accelerator to support their social equity licensees. Entrepreneurs who were recently awarded social equity licenses in Connecticut will be at MJ Unpacked, and there will be a meetup for attendees interested in meeting these entrepreneurs on Thursday, April 27th, at 2 pm in the Lounge at MJ Unpacked.

George Jage, co-founder of MJ Unpacked, said, “We don’t approach MJ Unpacked as just hosting an event. It is about building a community that supports the underrepresented and independent operators in our industry. Changing the narrative requires more than just holding a session to discuss the issue, which is why these initiatives are so central to our business. We took an approach that delivers real resources and opportunities for these entrepreneurs to introduce products to the market, connect with buyers and investors, and drive conversations that can deliver results.”

MJ Unpacked’s efforts to promote social equity and inclusion in the cannabis industry set the stage for a more equitable and diverse future. Through partnerships with organizations such as Our Academy, Oaksterdam University, and the Connecticut Social Equity Council Cannabis Business Accelerator

About the Author: News Team

Newsteam at Highly Capitalized are some of the most experienced writers in cannabis and psychedelics business & finance. We cover capital markets, finance, branding, marketing and everything important in between. Most of all, we follow the money.

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