Since 2019, Pure Beauty has been dedicating a portion of proceeds from our products to support communities impacted by the war on drugs. As a cannabis brand, we are acutely aware of the historical injustices that exist in this industry--disproportionately for Black and Latinx communities. It is important not to lose sight of this history, particularly as this industry grows and becomes increasingly monetized and homogeneous. We are committed to ensuring this stays part of the cannabis narrative.
How the Cannabis Industry Can Give Back
We know that one of the impacts of the war on drugs has been the destruction of communities—specifically communities of color. The ACLU has a thorough report that highlights the racial disparities in arrests for marijuana-related incidents, and finds that Black people are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people (despite similar rates of usage among both races). The resulting criminal records, stigma, and time spent incarcerated as a result of marijuana arrests take people out of the workforce, away from families, and make it harder for them to get jobs after release.
Conversations around cannabis legalization and reinvestment have focused on how to support communities most impacted by criminalizations, and specifically racial disparities within the industry. While we are growing our apprenticeship programs to support this effort, we recognize the reinvestment by the cannabis industrustry in marginalized communities needs to take a broader approach, so we are also committed to working through high quality organizations that can multiply our impact in addressing the legacy of the war on drugs, over-policing, and the dramatic disparities in sentencing that have resulted in the mass-incarceration of people of color.
Defy Ventures is an example of an organization that takes a holistic approach to supporting communities that have suffered from mass and over-incarceration, due in no small part to the war on drugs. Through entrepreneurship, career readiness, and personal development training and opportunities in prisons and in communities, Defy helps create pathways to a variety of opportunities for formerly incarcerated people. With training, mentorship, and financial support, the Entrepreneurs in Training who go through Defy’s program can start small businesses, employ others, and build wealth for themselves, their families, and their communities. Defy also does important work around building connections between the business community and people who have been incarcerated. Destigmatizing those who have criminal records is crucial to bringing jobs and opportunities back into communities that have been most affected by disinvestment in communities of color and drug laws rooted in racial injustice.
We believe there are many ways for those of us in the cannabis industry to get involved in ways that support the rebirth of these communities in broader ways than just cannabis-focused opportunities. If you want to get involved, reach out to me or Defy at [email protected].
Imelda Walavalkar is the founder and CEO of Pure Beauty, a cannabis company that uses eco-sustainable methods to cultivate its product. Imelda and her co-founders have been supporting Defy’s work since 2019 and are committed to giving back to work that supports current and formerly incarcerated individuals. They recognize the connection between the war on drugs and the disproportionate impact of this punitive movement on communities of color and strive to contribute some of their profits from the legalization of cannabis to these communities.
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