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Why Black Entrepreneurs Are Not in the Cannabis Industry: Weaponized Policies Part 1

Over the past 70-plus years, cannabis has become a household name around the world. From public smear and propaganda campaigns to health and innovative solutions offered by the plant across numerous industries. No matter where you stand on this spectrum, the effects of this debilitating War on Drugs have and continue to negatively affect the Black community. Within this 5 part series, we’ll explore the principal reasons why this War became a targeted assault, forever changing the economic, social, educational, political, and psychological freedom of Black Americans. We’ll also discuss our solution to changing this narrative.

Prohibition & The War on Drugs 

A strategy created with a hatred for Black and Mexican culture and the greed of corporate institutions. The United Nations Narcotics Commission laid out a sound plan of coordinated attacks to strip black Americans of their economic progression and cannabis culture while benefiting from their free labor in prisons. Enter the propaganda machine. In the late 1930’s the American media went into a frenzy creating anti-cannabis films such as “Marijuana, Assassin of Youth” to “Reefer Madness”, depicting Black Americans as dangerous, sex-hungry, brainless buffoons. 

This campaign later unveiled anti-black statements from the Democratic Federal Commissioner, Harry Anslinger, stating, "Reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men.” This caused many Americans to align with the government's course of action to combat the possession and trafficking of this plant. Unfortunately, this campaign successfully carried out its mission of disproportionately targeting and imprisoning Black Americans, which further led to an aggressive onslaught of anti-cannabis laws to be created; 

Democratic Policy: Boggs Act (1951) 

When the Boggs Act of 1951 was amended, it set mandatory sentences for drug convictions. A first-offense conviction on cannabis possession carries with it a minimum sentence ranging from 2-10 years and up to $20k in fines. 

Republican Policy: Narcotic Control Act (1956) 

The Narcotic Control Act was implemented to combat drug abuse, specifically about Narcotics. This Act ordered harsh penalties for activities such as possession for trafficking

or cultivating marijuana, heroin, and cocaine among others, and sentenced offenders to a death sentence, with provisions to facilitate the arrest and conviction of peddlers and addicts.

Republican Policy: Controlled Substance Act (1971) 

The Controlled Substance Act was passed in 1971 to serve as the legal foundation for federal drug law enforcement. This federal U.S. drug policy places all substances under existing federal law into one of five schedules, which declare the manufacture, importation, possession, use, and distribution of certain narcotics, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, anabolic steroids, and other chemical regulations. 

Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse, have no medical use in treatment in the United States, and lack safety. Currently, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, marijuana) is still considered a Schedule 1 substance. 

Republican Led: Just Say No Campaign (1982) 

"Just Say No" was the popular name for an advertising campaign that encouraged children not to participate in illegal drug use. The slogan arose during President Ronald Reagan's administration, with First Lady Nancy Reagan championing it heavily to discourage children from engaging in illegal recreational use of substances like cocaine or cannabis. 

Republican Policy: Anti-Drug Abuse Act (1986) 

To strengthen Federal efforts and promote international drug law enforcement cooperation, the U.S House passed a new Anti-Drug Abuse Act that would improve interdiction efforts within U.S borders as well as provide increased penalties, allocate $1.7 billion to government agencies, and establish a series of mandatory minimum sentences for violations of the Controlled Substances Act.

Republican Policy: Zero Tolerance Policy (1988) 

This law prohibited the possession, import, or exportation of illicit drugs, or importation across U.S borders with severe punishments for any measurable amounts found guilty depending on what they were trying to get rid of themselves: either marijuana residue or other drugs. Individuals in possession of illegal drugs were arrested and charged with both a misdemeanor and a felony offense. 

Zero tolerance is still applied in many workplaces, including government positions and schools around the country. 

Democratic Policy: Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (1994) 

The 1994 Crime Bill, also known as the Bill Clinton or Joe Biden Law is an Act that dealt with crime and law enforcement. This Act was the largest crime bill in the history of the United States and provided the following; 

● 100,000 new police officers 

● $9.7 billion in funding for prisons 

● $6.1 billion in funding for prevention programs 

● $2.6 billion in funding for government agencies (FBI, DEA, INS)


America's adoption of decades of bi-partisan, anti-drug, and anti-Black laws shows that both political parties stand in solidarity in the prohibition of cannabis and the exploitation of Black Americans. The very nature of the U.S. federal government incentivizing states to incarcerate more people is insidious but telling. Each generation of policies and bills signed benefited the federal and state governments with job creation for law enforcement and increased sentencing. These policies not only fueled capitalistic greed but also spawned a counterculture, leading many Black Americans to hesitate to participate in the cannabis industry due to the government's historical actions. As a result, we have missed out on economic opportunities and have thrown our support behind politicians who do not prioritize our best interests. 

At CEED, we do not wait on the government to act, nor do we wait on the media to tell us their opinion of the situation. We take actions into our own hands and own our historical narrative. CEED challenges the narrative of victimization being the only tie to our African lineage with the cannabis plant. That’s why we are infusing our global culture with technology to create the CEED platform for Black entrepreneurs to be part in revolutionizing the cannabis industry. 

Join us in creating this change and support for Black-owned cannabis businesses. Visit our YouTube channel to watch video content on this discussion point.


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