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Not thinking big enough

It’s been widely reported, in recent months, that black people, who were and continue to be disproportionately affected by anti-marijuana laws, are now being excluded from the growing legalized pot industry. In Seattle, this reality combined with growing frustrations over the gentrification of predominantly Black communities, resentment towards an establishment like Uncle Ike’s, a pot shop in the heart of the Central District, is not unexpected.

Ian Eisenberg

Ian Eisenberg

Still, in the face of anger and protests directed at him and his business, Uncle Ike’s owner, Ian Eisenberg, seems surprisingly interested in finding ways to increase African American representation in Seattle’s pot industry.
“Washington tried doing it through the lottery system and cheap buy in (at) $250,” said Eisenberg, referring to the Washington State Retail Pot Lottery that took place in 2014. “It was so poorly publicized and you basically needed a lawyer to understand the process. The whole thing was a mess.”
The screening process to determine eligibility for the lottery, excluded anyone who has had a felony conviction within the last 10 years. Some of the people that fall into that category are locked away in prisons for doing the same thing legal pot shops do.
Eisenberg, who is Jewish, fully acknowledges the role that institutional racism plays in the extra hurdles that black people are facing in this process, and has expressed a genuine interest in trying to find ways to help African Americans to get into the cannabis industry, including men and women convicted of marijuana-related offences. Getting started out in linkedin cannabis groups in order to network with likeminded businessfolk could be a great way to begin your cannabis career. Of course, there is plenty more that you can do to help you with this business path, you just have to make sure that you are happy to work hard as this will help you be successful. It’s not just LinkedIn that people will need to worry about, but they will also need to make sure that they have enough money (so they might need to check out something like this small business loan Florida can provide for them), that they have enough customers, and that they also know how to sell their business.
Uncle Ike’s makes 1.4 million dollars in revenue monthly. After the state takes 46%, 37% Marijuana Tax and 9% sales tax, and overhead is deducted, Uncle Ike’s still makes a few hundred thousand dollars a month, legally, at the state level. And, with systems like Metrc available, this can be done much easier than previously possible. There are African Americans that are making large sums of money, selling marijuana illegally and that has to change. Legitimate business ownership and possible employment opportunities in the cannabis industry, could potentially have a huge positive impact on Black Lives. Business owners going into the cannabis or CBD industries may want to have connections with private label CBD manufacturing companies to improve their product lines.
In Oakland, CA, an intriguing first step to solving this problem is underway.
According to a Hightimes article, Oakland’s City Council unanimously passed a revolutionary new program in which Oakland residents who have been jailed for pot within the last 10 years will go to the front of the line to apply for legal weed permits.
These types of measures are necessary to open up competition to Blacks and minorities, who combined make up 53 percent of Oakland’s population. Although Seattle has a much smaller African American population, this program would still benefit distributors.

It’s worth considering the possibility that the time and energy being spent protesting a business like Uncle Ike’s would be put to better use attempting to change policies in Seattle, the way they are in Oakland.
Mount Calvary’s Pastor Witherspoon, who has been one of the fiercest critics of Uncle Ike’s and its proximity to his church, has also been quoted saying, “if a pot shop is allowed at the corner of 23rd Avenue and East Union Street, where African Americans were arrested for selling illegal weed, then the mayor needs to let all the brothers and sisters go who are incarcerated for marijuana.”
But why is this an if/then statement? Shouldn’t the argument simply be that, regardless of where any marijuana business is situated, “the mayor needs to let all the brothers and sisters go who are incarcerated for marijuana”?

Pastor Witherspoon

Pastor Witherspoon

If Pastor Witherspoon and other influential members of the black community genuinely care about “brothers and sisters” who have been locked up for selling weed, they need to shift energy towards helping those, deemed criminals for selling weed, get recognized as legitimate businessman.
These men and women have already been recognized by the State of Washington as “marijuana distributors” and they have done time for their actions. Now that it is legal, they should be able to sell weed legally, somehow, some way.


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