Diversity slowly increasing among Colorado cannabis business owners

Women, minority execs show few gains in U.S. cannabis industry, according to the latest data from the MJBiz Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Report. Get your copy here.


Diversity among business owners in the Colorado cannabis market is on the rise and has exceeded a goal set by the state, but the industry remains dominated by white men, a new report shows.

According to the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), minority ownership of marijuana companies in Colorado had reached 16.9% as of Jan. 1, compared with baseline data of 15.2%.

According to a department news release, the state had set a “wildly important goal” of minority ownership in the state’s marijuana industry exceeding 16.8% by June 30, 2022 – a level that was reached by the start of this year.

The MED data includes 50 social equity-licensed businesses, of which four permits were issued just last month.

But the numbers also reveal that the industry remains overwhelmingly white and male: Of a total of 43,670 employees and owners, 25,445 were male. And of the 26,949 Colorado marijuana industry insiders who self-identified their race, 18,208 were white (16,721 did not respond).

The findings: Whites comprise 66.5% of employees in the industry and 83.1% of owners, according to the MED numbers.

Women, meanwhile, represent 39% of the employees in the industry and account for 19% of owners.

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The MED’s social equity data also showed that:

  • Hispanics were the second-largest demographic, at 17.1% of employees and 7.9% of owners.
  • Blacks represent 6.2% of employees and 2.9% of owners.
  • Asians represent 1.5% of employees and 4% of owners.