As marijuana becomes legal around the country, blacks and Latinos are often left out of new business opportunities. Advocates say people of color are often reluctant to join the growing legal marijuana economy because they were targeted far more often than whites during the war on drugs. Studies show members of such communities were arrested and jailed for illegal marijuana use far more often than whites.
As Massachusetts developed laws for legal marijuana, officials wrote what they claimed was a first-in-the-nation Social Equity Program explicitly to give members of those communities a leg up.
But this part of the state law isn’t working — next to no black or Latino candidates have applied for licenses in Massachusetts.
“They’re scared of the government, man,” said Sieh Samura, an outspoken cannabis activist. “This is still a new thing. And there’s taxes, there’s the government, there’s all kinds of things, you know.