What is Ethically Sourced Cannabis
The rise of conscious consumerism proves that many prefer to put their money behind conscious brands that are doing good in this world. From diamonds and coffee to apparel and experiences, we see ethical consumerism trends every day. But what about the now booming business of cannabis? With the ethical cannabis alliance becoming more prominent, it’s important to learn about ethically sourced cannabis.
The once criminalized plant available to consumers in 19 U.S. states and counting boasts a range of health and wellness benefits, but many believe that more needs to be done for the environment and to support minority communities. This post explores why ethically sourced cannabis matters, who’s leading in the fight, and ethical cannabis brands and organizations you should put your money behind!
Social Equity and the Ethical Cannabis Alliance
The cannabis industry sits at a unique intersection of racial and social impact. With over 40,000 people currently incarcerated for cannabis-related offences in the U.S, a disproportionate amount of which being Black and Brown, it seems only necessary that an industry expected to surpass 90 billion dollars by 2028 be working to support those sitting behind bars. Organizations like Last Prisoner Project, The Social Impact Center, Equity First Alliance, Minority Cannabis Business Association, The Color of Cannabis and National Expungement Week are each working to hold cannabis companies accountable, level the playing field for minorities in cannabis, and repair the harm caused by the unjust War on Drugs.
Women make up another minority group in cannabis and account for a significant portion of all sales of cannabis and hemp. However, women are behind in ownership and executive roles compared to their mostly cisgender, white male couterparts. Supporting the following women-owned and operated brands can help to level the uneven playing field and make cannabis more equitable for women.
- The Higher Collection is a veteran and minority-owned and female-operated entity redefining the norms of the industry and striving to boost diversity through the expansion of opportunities to minorities.
- Miss Grass is a women-owned brand on a mission to help the world get good at weed.
- Simply Pure is a Black woman and veteran-owned dispensary considered to be the best amongst fellow Denver, Coloradans.
Where Your Weed Comes From Matters
Less than 5% of cannabis brands are owned by People of Color (POC), so supporting these social equity and POC cannabis brands also matters. When shopping for legal cannabis, be sure to ask your budtender what social equity brands their dispensary offers.
- SF Roots, the first City of San Francisco cannabis social equity licensees.
- Ball Family Farms, is a Black-owned, Los Angeles-based social equity cannabis business also dedicated to organic farming practices.
- Eaze, is a CA cannabis delivery service offering an expansive POC-owned and social equity menu.
- Emerald Leaves, is the largest dispensary in Tacoma, Washington and 100% Black-owned.
We’ve discussed the need for equitable ownership and reinvestment around cannabis products, but what about the seeds, soli, and those who grow this precious plant? According to the Department of Agriculture, 98% of U.S. farms are owned by whites. Thanks to grass-roots organizing and advocacy, conversation around ethical and equitable farming standards are being had.
The 40 Acre Co-Op, for example, is the first and only nationwide cooperative supporting socially disadvantaged farmers. The Black Cannabis Growers Association is also working to make growing cannabis more equitable by providing educational support and networking opportunities for black cannabis growers. Perhaps once cannabis is federally legalized government-sponsored initiatives like the Justice for Black Farmers Act will work to support cannabis farmers.
While cannabis provides many with the opportunity to connect with Mother Earth, the environmental impact of producing cannabis continues to be a concern for environmentalists. Of the many cannabis businesses across the country, not one is known to have an environmental impact executive, while some cannabis growers are being criminalized for hazardous growing practices. A San Diego cannabis extractor pleaded guilty in federal court to offenses related to the dumping of hazardous waste, including 55-gallon drums of waste ethanol in early 2018, according to MJBiz Daily.
Beyond waste removal is the big elephant in every room, cannabis waste and packaging. While people are loving legal weed, many question the materials used and amount of packaging they get it in. Gone are the days of little plastic baggies, problematic in their own right. With over 16 billion in sales in 2020, it’s safe to assume that the packaging from these products has ended up in local landfills due to the lack of sustainable child-resistant, biodegradable packaging. From farming practices to packaging, the cannabis industry has a unique opportunity to confront environmental impact head on.
We know that buying minority-owned or social equity-based cannabis products, however, another barrier to social equity for minority cannabis businesses is the ever-raging illicit cannabis market. Ultimately, ethics matter. Support the conscious cannabis brands and the ethical cannabis alliance with a focus on social equity listed above and you’re doing your part in ensuring this industry becomes equitable for all.
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