Why Black Success In Cannabis Might Be The Best Revenge To Systematic Racism
Despite the final tally of Black people negatively affected by the war on weed, its legalization has energized a new Black wealth opportunity.
November 18, 2020 at 3:29 pm
It feels wrong to celebrate Black wealth when so many people are disenfranchised. I understand that collectively, ‘mad’ is the only way to feel right now. But why are we, the Black successful, still scared to share our success, especially now? How do we edit this picture and what does the edited version look like at local, national, and international levels?
The Sweetest Revenge Against Systemic Racism is Black Success
When you’re seeing national outrage, police defunding, many begging for protective gear and precautions to discourage the spread of COVID-19. When you see videos of police officers pushing elderly men to the ground and cities overspending on racist-fueled police departments. When protests around the globe are still in support of ‘America for Trump’ days after a lost election. When you witness time and time again, individuals being killed senselessly right in front of our eyes, to be a Black millionaire can feel wrong.
To celebrate Black opulence would be a slap in the face to all the uncelebrated. The time right now requires many things from those of us business owners, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. What I hope to convey in exact ways is how success for Black people is the best revenge against systemic racism. And being honest about how much work and focus that success requires.
In 2017, I co-founded the cannabis tech company Veriheal with my business partner Joshua Green, another prosperous Black man, with the goal of building a new network of cannabis users. Before we had staff members and beta testing work for our online platform, the cannabis industry had never heard my name. The industry talked about Black men only through the judicial system.
The growing number of people supporting legalization don’t necessarily see Black men as cannatech brand owners, but they do care about selling that product back to us. Malcolm X said it best, “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.”
Following the 2020 election, the majority of US states have now legalized cannabis at some capacity. However, growing and selling cannabis is still very much illegal under federal law, though that rule is not enforced by the U.S. Attorney General. This practice of non-enforcement began under President Barack Obama, whose administration sought to start the practice of decriminalizing small drug offenses and to give states their own individual power to decide whether they wanted to allow medicinal and recreational cannabis use. All across the world, people are supporting cannabis legalization, now that it benefits a state’s capital. Meanwhile, so many Black men still sit in prison because of misdemeanors for cannabis possession.
As a Black man, having another Black man as a business partner has always helped me to build my confidence in this industry. Building a cannabis business around systematic racism means having to deal with problems that only having another Black man in the room can solve. Collectively, Black people sharing our stories of success is in effect combating institutional and societal racism and is a pathway to progress.
Sharing Success Stories is Imperative For Inspiring Progress
Sharing your story of Black success is the first step in a long and complex process. You can have all the money in the world, with all the power and fame, but if it doesn’t have generational sustainability, you can’t REALLY rebuild. So we have to talk about the Black rich, too, and we cannot be so simplistic that we think it only comes in entertainment and sports.
In Veriheal’s three years, we increased our customer base from 0 to 1,000,000+ website users, and over 150,000 users are now engaged medical cannabis users, because of the access our platform provides. Let that sink in. In the course of 36 months of business cultivation and growth, we were met with skeptical and racist bank loan officers, prejudiced investors, and angry friends and family who neither trusted the criminal justice system in America nor believed Black people could make millions from cannabis legalization. But my partner and I have survived “The System.” Veriheal has grown over 500% through 2020 during the height of a pandemic. This shows us that success for Black people is the greatest form of retaliation; we are making history, providing jobs, educating, and being innovative in helping people heal.
My partner and I have changed the narrative for our families, but I learned long ago that winning doesn’t always mean you get the prize. Sometimes you personally see progress, money, and wealth, but it won’t have everlasting change unless we pave the way for other Black entrepreneurs and families. When it comes to teaching other people that it’s possible in America, I certainly believe that is my mission now more than ever.
Cannabis Opens Doors For Opportunity
As the child of Nigerian immigrants, I was raised with a self-assured label of expected royalty. Wealth is an act of attitude. I saw my own father experience profound relief with my cannabis oil recommendation before losing his battle with cancer. So my mantra through every endeavor has been to keep going no matter what. Now at the age of 29, I am experiencing an enormous mindset shift that we have a social responsibility to make the potential health benefits of cannabis accessible for patients at a national level. We can no longer stand by patiently waiting for large scale medical studies that aren’t being funded, for our country to reschedule cannabis (currently classified as a Schedule I drug), or for the stigma attached to the war on drugs to dissipate.
Through the cannabis lens, the poor can access financial means, and the incarcerated can find employment support in growing and cultivation. The medically-addicted, those plagued by severe pain, and people living with chronic illness and disability can receive a measure of relief.
While getting several businesses off the ground in college and post-graduation, I have watched friends and associates fall victim to cannabis convictions fueled by racism—meanwhile, the Green Rush, ignited by cannabis legalization, is predicted to bring billions of dollars of revenue into the American economy, surpassing the global alcohol industry.
Despite the final tally of Black people negatively affected by the War on Drugs, cannabis legalization has energized a new Black wealth opportunity. It has become my personal mission to be quite willing to go to war to spread the message of Black wealth through this plant.
Are you finally listening? Information and access will not save us from imprisonment, but ignorance will stunt our sauce. Take the time to learn more about the wealth that awaits you in the cannabis industry, and if you’re Black, there are plenty of examples of those of us who have unapologetically succeeded. Berner from the Cookies empire; Al Harrington and his team at Viola; Hope Wiseman of Mary and Main; the Doctors Knox family of cannabinoid specialists; Vetra Stephens and Maurice Morton, dispensary and cultivation center owners in Detroit; the Hollingsworth family of cannabis farmers; Wanda James and Scott Durrah of Simply Pure Dispensary; Mike Tyson and the Tyson Ranch… and there are more of us. We’re here to be an example and show you the way.
Tech leader, Sam Adetunji is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Veriheal; a partner of the “Change Lives with Cannabis” mantra and personal advocate to the miraculous benefits of the plant. From business building to foreign currency exchange, Sam brings a salesman hustler's swagger to this industry. You can follow him @samsowavy1 on Instagram.