fbpx Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks out against racial and gender disparities in legal marijuana industry

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks out against racial and gender disparities in legal marijuana industry

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Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke out earlier this week against the obvious race and gender disparities that currently exist in the cannabis industry in states where it’s legal.

Ocasio-Cortez spoke at the US House Committee on Financial Services and called out the glaring issue that women and racial minorities are severely underrepresented in executive roles in the legal cannabis industry.

“According to an industry trade publication, 73 percent of cannabis executives in Colorado and Washington are male, 81 percent are white,” she said during the hearings. “In the state of Massachusetts, just 3.1 percent of marijuana businesses in the state were owned by minorities, and just 2.2 percent were owned by women Is this industry representative of the communities that have historically [borne] the greatest brunt of injustice based on the prohibition of marijuana?”

During the hearing, Ocasio-Cortez asked Corey Barnette, one of the few African-American medical cannabis business owners, if marijuana is “compounding the racial wealth gap,” to which Barnette replied, “absolutely not”.  

According to Civilized, this disparity also exists in Canada’s nationwide legal industry. Women reportedly only represent 5 percent of board seats for publicly traded companies that produce marijuana. Additionally, only 19 percent of marijuana businesses owners and founders are people of color.

“It does not look like any of the people who are reaping the profits of this are the people who were directly impacted,” said Ocasio-Cortez.

She also made headlines earlier in the week after making comments that she would not be bothered by a sitting president consuming marijuana. In an interview with TMZ she responded “It’s fine with me. You’re not hurting anybody, you know?”

“There are plenty of people who drink, they’ll go out to happy hour,” she said. “How is that different from anything else?”

“We need to accept that there is nothing more inherently damaging about marijuana than say legal substances like alcohol or anything else,” she told TMZ during an interview. “So I’m glad that we’re moving towards a more just position as a party and that we’re moving to legalize marijuana but not just legalize marijuana but to really make up for the damages done by the war on drugs and the people who were unjustly incarcerated by the war on drugs.”

There are several politicians who are in the running for president in the 2020 election who say they will push for legalization as well as those who have admitted to their own experiences with using cannabis. Cortez’ comments show a positive shift in attitude toward marijuana and that it may become legal across the U.S. in the near future.

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