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black cannabis activists advocate for inclusive green rush

February 22, 2019
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It’s no secret that the so-called Green Rush is largely taking place with the absence of Black and brown people. Those who were largely targeted and subsequently incarcerated during the War on Drugs are being cut out of legalized profit altogether. But there are a few groups and businesses aiming to change all that. Marijuana activists like Tucky Blunt of Oakland are taking charge of the opportunity, despite legal setbacks that he’s experienced. And he’s helping others, too. Selling cannabis for nearly a decade, it was an $80 transaction that caught him up.

“We were out there trying to make money to help support our families at a time when people didn’t have a lot money. We didn’t think we were hurting anyone,” said Blunt, 39. “I liked weed. I knew people who liked weed. Why not facilitate them getting good weed? That’s how I looked at it.”

“In my circle because it was only targeted to us. I knew white people that was selling weed that never went to jail,” Blunt said. “The war on drugs was just about putting as many of us in jail as possible. It tore up a lot of families.”

Ironically, the same year he was arrested, Oakland voters “ordered” local police to deprioritize marijuana arrests. Which worked for a while until locals began to notice that Black men were still being targeted at higher rates than their white counterparts.

Years after his initial drug arrest, Blunt has broken into the cannabis industry with the help of a local special license preference program that prioritizes longtime Oakland residents who were hurt by the drug war by giving them priority, preference and assistance to open a dispensary of their own. Blunt was the first resident to benefit from this program, allowing him to open his dispensary called Blunts+Moore. And now, Blunt is helping others advocate for the same types of programs to be initiated in other cities.

And he’s not the only one trying to make a difference for Black folks getting into cannabis. There’s also WOC-owned DOPE CFO which “works alongside the top Accountants, CPAs, and Bookkeepers to build and grow [green]  firms.” As you probably guessed, federal laws make it harder to monetize cannabis businesses since, technically, it’s still illegal to the federal government. Leaving many business owners in the most precarious situations. DOPE CFO was created to help keep those finances in check.

Naomi Granger, CPA, MBA is an accounting expert who specializes in helping cannabis CEOs manage their money. “Cannabis CEOs run into a slew of accounting problems unique to this brand new, partially illegal industry. Growers and dispensaries have an ever-growing list of compliance concerns, banking issues and federal tax limitations,” says Granger. CPAs at DOPE CFO help cannabis CEOs navigate the turbulent climate where cannabis businesses might clash with the federal law.

What does this mean for you? That if you’re interested in chasing the Green Rush as a person of color or a previously incarcerated person, there are people and business who want to help you. So, start up that business proposal you’ve been sleeping on.