Diversity and Inclusion Issues Still Pose Challenges for Expanding Cannabis Industry
DENVER – As cannabis legalization spreads like wildfire across the United States, the industry continues to struggle with issues of diversity and inclusion. Since 2020 alone, 11 additional states have legalized the plant for recreational use yet cannabis remains a predominantly white, male business. A 2021 MJBizDaily survey revealed that between 2019 and 2021, minority ownership in the industry dropped from 28% to 13.1%, and women ownership dropped from 36.8% to 22.1%. Combined with the legacy of unjust incarcerations under the failed War on Drugs, this lack of diversity casts an ugly shadow over legal cannabis.
“I could no longer sit by and allow the injustice of unfair incarceration and lack of industry representation to tear my community apart while others continue to profit off of cannabis,” said Loriel Alegrete, Chief Executive Officer of 40 Tons, a social impact group focused on fighting for social justice in the industry. “So we started 40 Tons to help the families affected by these severe punishments, to be a positive voice for federal legalization and to bring the fight for social equity to Washington and the industry.”
40 Tons works for the release of incarcerated prisoners, as well as helping those already released through assistance programs. In 2021, the social impact group began hosting cannabis career fairs, “Canna Get a 2nd Chance,” to help individuals who have recently been released from prison or have once been affected by a marijuana-related conviction. Upcoming events are planned for late spring in New York City and the end of summer in Chicago. These job fairs provide comprehensive services to those seeking employment, including:
- Resume assistance – 40 Tons has recruited Brand Resumes to help craft or update resumes on the spot at every event.
- Interview essentials – Offering free suits, haircuts and even headshots for those needing a little help getting interview ready.
- Career opportunities – Face-to-face interactions with cannabis businesses looking to hire for a multitude of roles.
“Our events go way beyond the typical job fair,” Alegrete said. “We provide everything a job seeker needs to develop and refine their personal brand, and we even include an expungement clinic to help those with offenses clean their records. In some cases, people can literally finish their resume and walk right over to a company hiring manager.”
In order to help businesses and potential employees, 40 Tons has now teamed up with the Cannabis Creative Movement to create a free, downloadable resource guide that provides an overview of the organization, its mission, and insights into the benefits of attending one of its cannabis career fairs. “From Jails to Jobs: A Guide to Supporting Social Justice Hiring in Cannabis” is available for free download.
“The work that 40 Tons performs is incredibly important,” said Katie Burrell, Vice President and COO of PufCreativ, one of the founding partners of the Cannabis Creative Movement. “Not only are they working for the release of people facing unfair cannabis convictions, but they are helping them rebuild their lives while working for a more inclusive and diverse cannabis industry. Positive change starts in our community and extends outward from here.”
(This information is primarily sourced from Cannabis Creative Movement. Highly Capitalized has neither approved nor disapproved the contents of this news release. Read our Disclaimer here).
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