It’s June 2, 2020. Injustice is still happening all across the country to Black people. We’re dying by the thousands! Asking that justice be served to those who are accountable and laws are upheld to protect us. It’s done to no avail, but does it surprise me? No. Laws to protect the bodies of Black Americans have always been in question, even as Cannabis is being legalized at an alarming rate. Discrimination has no face and the Cannabis industry is no different.
I am Bria Price. A gifted black, female writer from Baltimore, Maryland who proudly uses Cannabis to heighten my creativity and battle anxiety. There’s nothing better than celebrating each day of creating and sharing stories, with soothing sounds, a nice breeze and a fresh batch of Garlic Cookies.
Cannabis’ history of legality is deeply rooted in racism. But because the white men who dominate the industry say it’s okay to smoke weed and capitalize off of it, it’s okay. Black people are still imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands – all across the country – for something a white person can do at their leisure.
They sell it, smoke it, grow it. Light up outside. On private property. With their friends. At parties. At festivals. At restaurants. On TV. In podcasts. In music. By the beach. While driving. Doesn’t matter. They get to wear it proudly. Bob Marley t-shirts. ‘One Love’ blasting. A joint hanging square off their lips.They get a slap on the wrist. We get a knee to the throat.
With furrowed brows, they’ll say you’re high. They don’t care about credentials or accolades. It won’t matter that you genetically engineered a strain. Or made it to the Cannabis Cup. Or that you’re a grower. Or a consultant. Your name won’t even ring a bell. Because less than a fifth of the people involved at an ownership or stakeholder level are black people. So, maybe they’ll ask you to step out of the car.
And it doesn’t matter if you’re Black and you radiate the scent of weed because you manage a dispensary, or that you can’t own on your own because you have a prior marijuana conviction. Which not only bans you from the industry but also limits your access to jobs, housing and educational opportunities. So your dream of operating one is lightyears away.
And that scent lingers with you to your car while you drive, although you haven’t inhaled a puff since 7:00 that morning. But you needed that puff to battle the anxieties you knew you would face as you left your home to enter America for the day.
It doesn’t matter that you were prescribed it. That it was by a proper doctor. Through the right channels. Rehabilitated. Dosed it right. It won’t matter once you see those red and blue lights creeping up behind you.
You’ll be forced to pull over. Even if it’s for nothing, it’s something. When you roll your window down, even with your proper identification and even with both hands on the wheel, they’ll smell the scent.
With furrowed brows, they’ll say you’re high. They don’t care about credentials or accolades. It won’t matter that you genetically engineered a strain. Or made it to the Cannabis Cup. Or that you’re a grower. Or a consultant. Your name won’t even ring a bell. Because less than a fifth of the people involved at an ownership or stakeholder level are Black people.
So, maybe they’ll ask you to step out of the car. Chances are they’ll “need” to search your car – without warrant. But you have to get out of it first. Maybe they’ll ask you to step out. Or they’ll yank you out.
They’ll pat you down or slap you up.
Call the hounds. Invite some friends.
Just to get a better whiff. Trash your car and when they find nothing – get angry.
Now, you’re resisting. For a “crime” that isn’t a crime and one that you didn’t commit. But you were just committed to healing. The same freedom for healing as everyone else. But now that same healing has cost you your life.
They’ll draw a gun. Or a baton. Raise a fist. Or bury a knee. Slam you down. Or hem you up.
And when your family turns on the news the next day, they’ll say you were just some thug with weed. Because your skin is Black and theirs is white. Because to them it’s just “medicine,” but for us it’s a “drug.”
That is what we’re protesting about. And this is just a taste of what criminal injustice looks like for Black people in the Cannabis industry and around the world.
So for those of you asking what you can do, the answer is anything. Anything to end the systemic racism and injustice currently happening. Donate to causes that are fighting these injustices. Protest. Scream Black Lives Matter from your rooftops. Spread the right information. Sign petitions. Bail out the wrongfully accused and unfairly sentenced. Expunge minor drug convictions. Use your privilege as a shield against police brutality. Expose the posers who don’t genuinely care for Black lives.
Stop wrongfully accusing us.
Stop judging us. Stop killing us.
Let us live. Let us heal. Let us breathe.
STORY by BRIA PRICE @briacprice for LEAF NATION | PHOTO by ANIYAH LEE