Legal marijuana made big promises on racial equity — and fell short

In 2015, a group of 24 investors managed to get a marijuana legalization measure on the ballot in Ohio.

Along with sanctioning small quantities of recreational weed, the measure limited mass growing operations to just 10 pieces of land controlled by the investment group. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the investors put in $4 million each, enough to buy the land and fund a campaign for legalization centered on addressing criminal justice inequity while creating an economic boon. The New York Times described it as a potential monopoly. The Columbus Dispatch identified just one black investor in the overwhelmingly white group, a former NBA player.

Others in the investor group included the progeny of former President William Howard Taft and a former boy band star. This was a group of Ohio’s richest, locking in an exclusive opportunity to get richer, while making an argument

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