Massachusetts launches initiative to get more minorities in cannabis space

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Black entrepreneurs in Massachusetts who say people of color are being shut out of the lucrative marijuana industry are joining forces to close the gap.

Real Action for Cannabis Equity (RACE) launched Thursday in Boston.

Its founders say the coalition will work to create more opportunities in the industry for minority owners.

Organizers say they’re frustrated that all but two of Massachusetts’ 184 marijuana business licenses were issued to white operators.

Voters in the state approved recreational marijuana use and sales in a 2016 referendum.

Coalition co-founder Richard Harding said many Massachusetts communities are deliberately excluding people of color as they license marijuana businesses.

Across the United States, African Americans face hurdles when entering the marijuana sector, often because they historically were targeted by anti-drug crackdowns that left them with criminal records.

That’s led to a nationwide movement to start social equity programs and give minorities an opportunity to enter the cannabis space.

Social equity programs have sprung up in several states and have been part of legalization discussions in state legislatures such as New York, where adult-use legalization has been on the table.

 – Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily