The weed industry is struggling to attract people of color—and Sieh Samura has a good idea why.
“[Weed] prohibition was violent,” he said. “And so they were violently discouraging people from basically having these businesses for a long time. And now they’re saying hey, come on. It’s ok now. You can trust us.”
Samura is a cannabis activist an entrepreneur who has benefitted from the Sira Accelerator Program, which provides entrepreneurs of color in Massachusetts with the tools they need to start their own cannabis businesses.
Some legal weed states like Massachusetts are writing legislation to get more people of color involved in the industry. But people of color, who are disproportionately penalized by drug laws, are hesitant to jump in.
“We need our law enforcement to kinda get on board and stop with their lip service,” Samura said. “And kinda be more accountable and responsible for really, how they’ve kind of lent to this problem. And then go forward from there.”
Samura’s involvement in the industry began when he returned home to Massachusetts from a tour in Iraq in 2004. He was having issues with chronic pain and anxiety, which medical cannabis helped treat. He then decided to open his own private cannabis club so he could help other people find the same relief.
He says we need to start addressing the stigma surrounding cannabis so that new cannabis businesses can thrive.
“We need people to talk honestly about what it looks like, about welcoming these businesses, how to welcome them, if they have concerns, which they do,” he said. “I think it’s working through those kind of prohibitionist concerns that they’ve been taught.”