Activists push for minority ownership in marijuana industry

Updated February 15, 2018 - 4:28 pm

As recreational marijuana sales boom in Nevada, minorities are getting left out of the industry, activists say.

Of Nevada’s 58 dispensaries, one is African-American-owned, according to the Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Association. While about 47 percent of industry employees are minorities, said Kema Ogden of Top Notch THC, there is work to be done.

Marijuana use is nearly equal between black and white Americans (about 24 million Americans used marijuana last year), but black Americans are arrested nearly 3.5 times more for marijuana possession, according to the Brookings Institution. And marijuana convictions could prevent someone from obtaining a license to operate a dispensary.

Under Nevada law, the state can’t give licenses to anyone convicted of an “excluded felony,” which has different meanings for medical and recreational applicants, according to the state Department of Taxation, which oversees marijuana licenses.

An applicant for a medical license would be ineligible if convicted of a violent crime or a drug-related felony, including marijuana.

For retail applications, a person would be ineligible if convicted of the same felonies (violent or drug-related) or two felonies of any kind in Nevada. If the person has any conviction out of state that would be considered a violent or drug-related felony in Nevada, or two offenses in another state that would be considered a felony under Nevada law, that person also would be ineligible.

There are a couple ways to get around this: Under both laws, if the applicant completed their sentence more than ten years before they apply, the conviction would not count against them. Also, if a conviction was immune from prosecution in Nevada under medical marijuana laws – occurring before Oct. 1, 2001, for recreational and April 1, 2014, for medical – an applicant would still be eligible for a marijuana license.

So far, no one has been denied a license because of a drug-related conviction, department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said.

There haven’t been many “red flags” among recreational applications, Klapstein said, because Nevada only accepts applications from those who already have medical dispensary licenses and already have been vetted.

That lasts until November, or 18 months from the start of legal recreational sales in the state, when anyone can submit an application. Applications will not be open on a rolling basis but instead during a fixed window of time. Klapstein said the official open date is yet to be determined.

The department considers applications on a case-by-case basis.

Assembly Bill 422, signed into law last year, directs the department to consider a list of factors in determining whether to award a medical marijuana license. Factors include including financial resources, educational achievements, knowledge and expertise of the industry and diversity of race, ethnicity or gender of the proposed owners, officers or board members.

The same applies if the department receives more applications for recreational licenses than it has to give, Klapstein said.

But activists say that isn’t enough. A group of Nevada politicians, activists and industry players gathered at Jardin Dispensary on East Desert Inn Road Jan. 12 to advocate for increased minority ownership.

“I haven’t always been an advocate for legalized marijuana,” state Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford told a small audience at the dispensary. Initially, Ford said, he believed the information he was told about marijuana being a gateway drug.

“What I wasn’t taught and what I didn’t learn until the 2013 legislative session … was that the initial criminalizing was based on racist premises in the first place,” he said.

Ford cited the United States’ increasing restrictions on marijuana in the early 1900s that occurred around the time of the Mexican Revolution, when many Mexicans immigrated to America to escape. Some smoked cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes.

As xenophobia grew with the influx of immigrants, states began to criminalize marijuana until, by the 1930s, marijuana was regulated as a drug in every state.

Andre Rhodes, who founded the Nevada Wellness Center on South Valley View Boulevard with fellow African-American colleagues Frank Hawkins and Luther Mac, said he saw a lot of his impoverished friends selling marijuana to pay for food.

“Then you get busted, and the rest of your life is ruined,” he said. “That doesn’t make you a bad kid.”

Now those friends can’t even think about owning a dispensary even though they might know more about the industry, Rhodes said.

Ogden, of Top Notch, identifies as a woman and a person of color. Whenever she has gone to marijuana-industry events, she said, “I was the only one that looked like me.”

Ogden agreed that reducing barriers for those with past marijuana convictions would be a positive step.

“I think it is definitely going to take some time, but having these conversations with state officials is very important,” she said. While there’s no law requiring the industry to be diverse, she continued, it’s something that people in the industry need to take initiative on.

Contact Madelyn Reese at mreese@viewnews.com or 702-383-0497. Follow @MadelynGReese on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Restoring classic Corvettes to perfection
Members of the National Corvette Restorers Society Convention talk about what it takes to earn the NCRS Top Flight Award for a restored Corvette at South Point in Las Vegas on Tuesday July 17, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Clark County recount votes in commission’s District E primary
Clark County staff begin the recount requested by candidate Marco Hernandez in the democratic primary for the County Commission's District E seat on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Long-running local hip hop producer wants Vegas rappers to shine
Las Vegas Hip Hop producer and co-owner of Digital Insight Recording Studios Tiger Stylz reflects on 30 years of music production in the city. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like