The Cannabis Industry Should Be Green, Not Whites Only

Alvin Singh

Historically its been documented how financial and judicial systems have treated African Americans in various business industries across the United States.  What is now coming to light is the same discriminatory practices in the modern gold rush toward legalized cannabis in Arkansas.

In February 2022, a Black-owned company in Arkansas filed suit against state medical marijuana regulators, alleging that it was discriminated against during the process to obtain a dispensary license.

In April the applicant filed a lawsuit to sue a consulting firm hired by state regulators to score applications for the state licensing, claiming the firm conspired to disclose giving licenses to companies with various conflicts of interests.

Since the legalization of medical marijuana in 2016, Arkansans have spent roughly $500 million dollars to purchase just over 70,000 pounds of medical marijuana and 40 licensed dispensaries across the state. Its big business and the usual stonewall practices are taking place in the local courts and business circles such as the recent Arkansas mayor who sued the state regulators and a private business in Jackson County.

During the early advocacy days to push for the legalization of medical conditions, many African-Americans were overlooked for their involvement to make sure medical cannabis laws lay out the conditions for which the drug may be prescribed.

But the laws in Arkansas and Florida — the only Southern states that legalized medical cannabis in 2019— didn’t cover sickle cell disease, which causes acute pain and disproportionately affects African-Americans. The bills in Tennessee and Kentucky also exclude that condition.

According to Pew Trusts reporting; “Black legalization advocates also fear that even if medical cannabis becomes legal, white politicians won’t regulate licensing and permitting in a way that ensures equitable opportunities for people of color.

“Without that, it’ll be more of the same,” said Dr. Felecia Dawson, a board-certified physician who closed her Georgia-based OB-GYN practice to focus on advocating for medical cannabis.

“Legislators will keep people of color … from the benefits of cannabis.”


If you are looking to open a dispensary, the best step is to start with the proper consultation and have a solid legal understanding of the industry you are entering. Just like the aviation and food industry, there are massive laws, regulations, taxes, and consequences of doing business successfully and effectively.

A good start is to talk with the Minority Cannabis Business Association and see what are the rules for your state and city.