By: Josh Kasoff The flourishing national cannabis industry is responsible for a considerable amount of tax revenue for the Legal States and job creation numbers that would make any sensible politician happy. The 2022 Leafly Jobs Report indicates that approximately 428,000 jobs have been created from the industry and countless Americans are now business […]
By: Josh Kasoff
The flourishing national cannabis industry is responsible for a considerable amount of tax revenue for the Legal States and job creation numbers that would make any sensible politician happy. The 2022 Leafly Jobs Report indicates that approximately 428,000 jobs have been created from the industry and countless Americans are now business owners through the industry that’s growing in a million different ways. Within the industry employees themselves, it’s considerably diverse. A walk-around of any of the numerous conventions surrounding the cannabis industry will show the diversity that exists amongst employees. During my years in the industry, I’ve worked with someone from every walk of life imaginable. Especially coming from such a sorely non-diverse workplace such as the mortgage business, it’s refreshing to see this kind of employment diversity. .
On the business ownership side however, cannabis is far more reminiscent of the mortgage industry. Although many states are spending millions in dollars and worker hours to ensure that those most impacted by horrific policies of the drug war have their seat at the canna-business ownership table, those communities are sadly still being excluded in droves. For executive level/board of directors positions in Nevada cannabis companies, a recent diversity report from the Cannabis Compliance Board shows that 74 to 77 percent of those people are white and incredibly male-dominated. 71 percent of business owners are male and an average of 63 percent of them are white. Only 12 percent were Hispanic and a shockingly low 5 percent of business owners are Black on the national level.
Luckily though, diversity applicants in Nevada have dedicated professionals with years of experience to navigate them through the treacherous world of getting their businesses certified in a variety of ways. From the complicated frustration she and her fellow women business owners received due to the Women Business Enterprise (WBE) certification, Heather Cox created Certify My Company, a group dedicated to providing that much needed navigation across the challenges that small and particularly diverse companies face. As Heather has seen from her years of corporate and network marketing, diversity is tantamount in all industries and can even be beneficial to suppliers and buyers in the supply chain of those industries.
“Corporate America, the government and all these other agencies learned that when you diversify your supply chain and you include diverse-owned businesses in your supply chain for goods and services that you buy for a company, you end up making more money.” explained Cox. “You get a better ROI in the supply chain and so more and more, companies are wanting to spend more money with diverse-owned businesses.”
With business certifications, these businesses can verify the statuses that make them stand out from their competitors. Whether its a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification, Veterans Business Enterprise (VBE) or the aforementioned Women’s Business Enterprise as well as LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) and Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE), these certifications show that the diversity stated by these businesses is truthful.
With the importance of supporting small and/or diversity-owned businesses becoming increasingly mainstream and large companies such as Target, Walmart and Nike announcing multi-billion dollar plans to support businesses such as the ones that Cox works with everyday, the certifications that CMC helps to streamline the process of obtaining have become equally as vital.
Possibly serving as a macrocosm of the cannabis industry, Nevada is notorious for a lack of diversity among businesses supported for public projects and works of the like. In fact, the architecture company that constructed Allegiant Stadium wasn’t only NOT diversity-owned but also wasn’t even located anywhere in Nevada. Manica Architecture has none of the diversity certifications listed above and their headquarters are in Kansas City- far from Sin City and the outrageously expensive stadium that everyone’s favorite transplant from Oakland plays in.
Nevada (and to an extent the NFL and Mark Davis) couldn’t even keep their promises on the Allegiant Stadium contracts being awarded to local construction companies.
Cox is both surprised and excited about Assembly Bill 341 and the slowly crafted consumption lounge program focusing so heavily on social equity and diversity inclusion in the badly needed ways that Question 2 did not include whatsoever for the Nevada cannabis industry back in 2016. She’s also interested in those two classifications, the same two classifications that Chamber of Cannabis President Tina Ulman described during our interview in the February 2022 issue.
The social equity applicants are individuals from communities directly impacted by our country’s inhumane cannabis policies of both yesteryear and current day. In some states, a diversity applicant is defined as a potential business owner that can be listed as and receive the very certifications that Cox helps her clients get a hold of.
“It would be excellent for the economy,” Heather explained, “There’s so many studies that prove when you support diverse-owned businesses, you are creating economies. There’s a lot of people who are in this “gig mentality” and don’t want to go back to work for someone else, so we can hire each other in so many different ways. Support those minority and women-owned businesses who don’t have the opportunity to get the same type of funding and the same type of equity and equality.
By giving them a leg up and an opportunity in an industry that would be prohibitively expensive, you’re creating economies and economics in demographics that wouldn’t be there otherwise.
Although Cox is hopeful that the Nevada cannabis space will become more diverse with the measures guaranteed in AB 341, she’s aware of the state’s hesitancy at diversity inclusion.
The Silver State is a perfect example of a state that has no supplier diversity program installed in the operations of the state government, with the only exception being the Las Vegas Valley Water District. A SDP, active in such states as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and surprisingly even Florida, is a program that strongly encourages state contracts and work opportunities are awarded to businesses that fall under those diversity categories.
This is the first time I’m writing this statement in my five years of freelance journalism, but Florida actually has a better enacted policy than the state I’m currently living in.
“You can’t measure what you can’t count.” Cox said. “We can say that it’s good to have diversity within the cannabis industry, but if we don’t know who’s truly diverse then we can’t count those measurements. We can’t track those metrics. So hopefully Nevada will not stop this (diversity measures in the consumption lounges) and let it go through.
I think it would be game changing for Nevada.”