Method Man to invest in black-owned cannabis businesses as industry struggles with social equity
While recent demonstrations against the state-sanctioned murders of African Americans through police brutality have brought increased scrutiny on the cannabis industry, minority entrepreneurs in the business are taking the opportunity to speak out and affect positive change. On Thursday, entrepreneur, actor, and hip-hop artist Clifford Smith Jr, better known by the stage name Method Man announced that he’s launching a cannabis business with the goal of helping to increase black ownership in the industry.
The announcement comes on the heels of several published reports showing legalized cannabis to be a white-dominated field. On Wednesday, a group of African American women behind Cannaclusive put out The Accountability List, a living document that records the cannabis industry’s dedication to social equity. Meanwhile, a few days earlier, the city of Denver released the findings of its very first-ever “cannabis business and employment opportunity study,” showing that the epicenter of legalized cannabis in America is overwhelmingly white and male.
Method Man, best known for his work with the Wu-Tang Clan and as Prop Joe’s nephew Cheese on “The Wire,” will open his new cannabis venture Tical, which is named after his first album, as early as this weekend, according to a spokesperson who spoke to Bloomberg. Tical stands for “Taking Into Consideration All Lives,” and, to date, has raised $300,000 with New York-based JLS Fund. The company is looking to bring in upwards of $3 million.
“Personally, it is essential that we use our brand to help bring awareness to the social, systemic, and economic injustice in communities that have struggled with oppressive mass incarceration and racially biased policing policies,” Method Man said in a statement.
According to Bloomberg, Tical will focus its partnerships on family-owned minority businesses in the cannabis space, including a small grow-house which it has already identified while bringing high-quality strains of cannabis to the marketplace.
The move comes amidst a heightened focus on police tactics within the African American community, which has also placed increased pressure on the cannabis industry to do more in terms of social equity. As can be seen on The Accountability List, many in the cannabis industry have done nothing more than post platitudes on social media over the past few weeks, with some companies even managing to bungle those responses and to offend the people they were claiming to support.
Meanwhile, in Denver, research shows that the black community, which for decades has been more susceptible to police action stemming from the War on Drugs, has been mostly kept out of the emerging cannabis industry. According to the report put out this week, a whopping 75 percent of cannabis businesses are white-owned in the city. In comparison, Hispanic people only make up 13 percent of ownership, and black people a measly six percent.
“This study sadly confirmed what was widely suspected,” Ashley Kilroy, the executive director of Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses, said in a statement. “Just like what has been seen across the state and in other legalized markets across the US, Denver does not have a diverse marijuana industry.”
The statement continued: “We look forward to the work ahead with the industry, social equity activists, lawmakers, and other stakeholders to create a Denver social equity plan that offers more opportunities to increase diversity when Denver creates new marijuana licenses in the future.”
To date, most activists in the cannabis space have put out louder calls for marijuana legalization at the federal level. Still, they have done little to acknowledge the racial discrepancies in the C-suites of the cannabis industry.