Analysis highlights lack of diversity in Canada’s legal cannabis industry

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Leadership positions in Canada’s regulated marijuana sector continue to be held predominantly by white males, according to a statistical analysis released this week.

The new analysis from the University of Toronto’s Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation included 700 executives and directors across 166 licensed cannabis producers and 56 parent companies.

It concluded that 84% of those leaders were white and 16% were nonwhite:

  • 6% were South Asian.
  • 3% were East and Southeast Asian.
  • 2% were Indigenous.
  • 2% were Arab.
  • 1% were Black.
  • 1% were Latino.

Most of the Indigenous people included in the analysis are from the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs, which holds a majority stake in a licensed producer.

If those leaders were excluded, the analysis notes, Indigenous people would comprise only 0.6% of Canada’s cannabis leaders.

Indigenous-affiliated companies have been awarded 4% of Canada’s federal cannabis licenses as of September, according to figures provided to Marijuana Business Daily by Health Canada.

Eighty-six percent of the cannabis industry leaders analyzed by the University of Toronto were male, and 14% were female.

The analysis acknowledges “some limited initiatives to facilitate greater industry diversity” in Canada’s cannabis industry.

However, the study also highlighted “a notable absence of government regulation and adoption of programs that would structurally address the underrepresentation of racialized groups that were disproportionately targeted and punished under prohibition.”

It calls on Canada’s federal, provincial and municipal governments to enact social equity programs, funded by legal cannabis tax revenue, to support the business efforts of underrepresented groups.

“Private actors in the Canadian cannabis industry should recognize the value in diversifying the racial and gender makeup of executives and directors, and adopt strategies to achieve such diversification,” the analysis noted.