[Issue 087] Who gets left behind when we legalize marijuana?


Before we jump into this week's newsletter, I just want to thank you all for the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received on the recent issue of the newsletter on inclusive marketing. Love has been pouring in over the last two weeks.

Not only did many of you find Ally's guest piece informative and insightful, but you also seemed to enjoy the overall thematic approach to the newsletter. One reader said she felt like she got a deep-dive into inclusive marketing, which made my heart sing!

Me, at my laptop

Me, at my laptop


I've taken your feedback to heart and am incorporating more of these elements into my content calendar. If you (1) have a particular topic you want me learn more about, (2) have a passion for a particular topic that you'd be willing to write about or (3) have a recommendation for someone I should interview for the newsletter, please hit reply and let me know! I read all of the subscriber emails that come this way.

Also, ABL patrons should stay tuned for an upcoming Google Hangout. We haven't had one in a while, and I miss your faces. I'll be sending messages via Patreon when I have a date locked in.

As for today's issue of the newsletter, I feel compelled to go backwards and talk about 4/20.

In case you missed it, Ben & Jerry's launched a campaign to highlight the injustice "baked" into our celebration of weed legalization.


The video for the campaign shared across social media starts with, "Ever notice how most people making $$$ off legalized cannabis are white? But a disproportionate number of people getting arrested for using cannabis are Black?"

It's true. Here's what you should know: 

  • Weed is now legal in 33 states, with others like Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Vermont expected to take actions this year. (Here is a cool legislation tracker.)

  • In an industry estimated to be worth $20 billion by 2020, 81% of cannabis executives are white. 

  • The data shows that Black people and white people use weed at the same rates, yet Black people are 3.73x more likely to get arrested. This holds true even in places where it has become legal (10x more likely in Alaska, 4x more likely in DC, 3x more likely in Colorado). 

Sources: Pacific StandardACLUBusiness Insider

The bright side is that there are lots of bad ass people working hard to change things. Organizations like Cannaclusive and Hood Incubator are two of my faves, as they are both focused on creating more equity in the cannabis industry. 

Even more excitingly, certain cities and states are moving to expunge marijuana convictions. As of this February, San Francisco has expunged 9,300 convictions for marijuana-related offenses dating back as far as 1975. Seattle has started expunging convictions and even states like Maryland are making it possible.


But it's not enough, and you can join Ben & Jerry's in taking action: Sign the petition(scroll to the bottom) telling Congress to expunge prior marijuana convictions and provide pardons/amnesty to anyone whose only crime was possession of cannabis.

Then, when you're done, check out the work Cannaclusive and Hood Incubator are doing, and show them some love (and, even better, send them some money if you can).



Democrats Keep Rejecting Corporate PAC Money. But Is It Just For Show? This article examines the trend of 2020 presidential candidates swearing off of corporate PAC donations, and discusses the effect on a campaign. According to Steven Billet, who oversees the legislative affairs master’s program at the George Washington University, candidates swearing off of corporate pac money are like people “giving the sleeves out of their vest,” because corporate PAC donations can only contribute up to $5,000 per person per campaign, and most candidates get the majority of their funding from private donations. Furthermore, most corporate pac donations are based on ideology, so they tend to support the incumbent candidate more than the open primary candidates. // FORTUNE

Amazon and Walmart Are Testing a Program To Accept Food Stamps Online. Public advocates have long argued that shopping innovations like e-commerce and cashless stores marginalize low-income shoppers since they have a harder time acquiring bank accounts and credit cards. However, Walmart and Amazon are teaming up with the USDA to pilot a two year program that would allow low-income shoppers to buy groceries online using food stamps. // VOX

Microsoft Staff Are Openly Questioning The Value of Diversity. On an internal online messaging board within Microsoft, intended for employees to communicate ideas or concerns with CEO Satya Nadella, some Microsoft employees have begun to criticize the company's diversity initiatives. One of the posts, made by a female program manager, suggests that women are less suited for engineering roles, and thus hiring initiatives to bring in more women to the roll are flawed. Another post read, “I have an ever-increasing file of white male Microsoft employees who have faced outright and overt discrimination because they had the misfortune of being born both white and male.” The posts have garnered both positive and negative responses. // QUARTZ


See Everlane’s First Sneaker. It’s Green, Cheap, and So Normcore-Chic. Everlane, a fashion company known for its strides in sustainability, has recently released a sneaker called “the Trainer” which uses as little virgin plastic as possible and is also carbon neutral, making it much more sustainable than other sneakers. The design is also toned down and minimal, so that the sneakers can go with more outfits and be worn more often. // FAST COMPANY

Don't Count on 23andMe to Detect Most Breast Cancer Risks, Study Warns. 23andMe is a DNA testing service known for providing customers with a percentage map of where they are descended from. However, the company has also offered testing for a certain gene mutation, the BRCA mutation that puts one at risk for breast or ovarian cancer. Alarmingly, some people who have had this testing done and been assured that they do not possess the mutated gene have gone on to learn that they do in fact have it. Even more alarmingly, some of these people have only found out they have the gene after being diagnosed with cancer. According to a study of 100,000 people, 90% of customers who tested for a BRCA mutation may have been given a false negative. // NYTIMES

Tesla to Investigate Car That Appeared to Burst Into Flames in Shanghai. A video depicting a Tesla car parked inside a parking garage in Shanghai, which spontaneously combusted, has raised safety concerns over the car. Tesla has reportedly sent investigators to Shanghai in order to see what caused the combustion. No one was hurt. // NYTIMES

Me, watching the video footage.

Me, watching the video footage.


When Does A Minimum Wage Become Too High. This article discusses how, while the fight for a higher wage is important and is being backed my many political and corporate entities, it is also important to research and find a balance so that minimum wage doesn’t reduce the number of jobs. Furthermore, the article brings up the point that a minimum wage in the rural south should perhaps be different from the minimum wage in a bustling big city. // NPR

The Shockingly Simple Way To Make Packaging More Sustainable. Heather Kauffman, the cofounder and COO of Full Circle, a sustainable dish brush and sponge company, has begun to raise awareness of that face that cleaning products with a main ingredient of water are less sustainable to ship than if they took the water out of the product, and allowed the consumer to hydrate their product at home. She says “We’re basically shipping water around the country”, and is urging consumers to look for water-less cleaning products. An e-commerce only cleaning brand, named Blueland, has launched a set of cleaning product tablets that you mix with water at home. // FAST COMPANY

This week's headlines were curated with help from ABL's intern, Lora.


“Black and brown communities may or may not be your consumers, but how do you make sure you’re using your platform and privileges and access to advance the goals of cannabis equity–even when it’s not easy, or even when you have to put aside a part of your privilege and divert your power?”

Ebele Ifedigbo

Lora Sipal