There's big money being made in the marijuana legalization movement. But none if it is going to benefit African-Americans, the people who have suffered the most because of marijuana prohibition. Even the New York Times, in an op-ed column calling for an end to America's pot ban, admitted that marijuana laws target African-Americans: "Even worse," they wrote, "the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals."
Yet as Florida voters prepare to join 23 other states that have legalized marijuana for medical use, many African-Americans will not get the opportunity to get rich doing something they are already good at. If Amendment 2 passes in November, the state Department of Revenue projects medical marijuana businesses could make $5.6 billion in annual sales. Orlando attorney John Morgan has dumped $4 million into the cause, claiming he's doing it for sick people. But what about African-Americans? There is no incentive for us to vote for medical marijuana.
First of all, the American marijuana industry is also going to put Jamaica — where so much of the illicit crop is grown today — out of business. Second, dealing weed is the number-one occupation in the hood. But take a good look at the new generation of "ganjapreneurs." They are predominantly white men like Tripp Keber, a former Capitol Hill staffer during the Reagan administration. He owns Dixie Elixirs, a publicly traded marijuana edibles company, and he's been dubbed the "Willy Wonka of Weed."
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It's highly unlikely a black person can compete for Keber's title. The marijuana industry is not affording African-Americans a chance to be part of the green gold rush. One major reason is that felons, especially ones who served time on drug-related charges, are not allowed to work for marijuana businesses in states that have legalized weed for medical use or in the two states that have legalized it for recreational use.
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Black people deserve the right to legally sell weed too.