By: Quentin Savwoir, CEIC Board Coronavirus has exposed just how vulnerable our economy is, both as a country and as a state. This global pandemic has shuttered small business and upended entire industries, especially right here in Nevada. Countless families have been forced to pivot, adapt and develop their own new normal in the […]
By: Quentin Savwoir, CEIC Board
Coronavirus has exposed just how vulnerable our economy is, both as a country and as a state. This global pandemic has shuttered small business and upended entire industries, especially right here in Nevada.
Countless families have been forced to pivot, adapt and develop their own new normal in the face of growing political tensions that have stalled further economic reprieve for the most vulnerable amongst us. Millions of Americans have run out of unemployment benefits and we face an unprecedented housing crisis.
Meanwhile, multiple corporations have logged record profits during this global downturn. The fundamental inequality in capitalism is that even in dismal and down-trodden times, business can still thrive and make profit gains – typically on the backs of Black, Indigenous and Latinx labor. The same communities that were disproportionately impacted by the failed war on drugs, continue to be negatively impacted by these racist policies.
It is individuals and families in these same communities that are most impacted by COVID-19, both physically and economically. They are frontline workers likely to contract the virus and are most likely to have limited or no access to affordable healthcare, paid family leave or even a livable wage. This is no time to persist in the status quo. It isn’t working. It has to change.
Cannabis, as an emerging industry, has a really unique opportunity to shift how we value Black and Indigenous labor in this country. It can start by providing access to high paying jobs with opportunities for upward mobility at levels of the organization. As well, provide affordable health benefits that won’t bankrupt families when illness strikes and ensure that employees have access to paid family leave so that caring for themselves or a loved one doesn’t threaten their livelihood or the future profits of their employer.
The cannabis industry in Nevada maintains its upward trajectory as dozens more licenses have been made available. This move will increase the number of dispensaries to 136 and will nearly double the annual tax revenues the industry generates for the state.
What’s unsettling is that the same employees that generate these revenues for the cannabis industry don’t enjoy any benefits. When illness strikes, they have to call off from work; if it’s severe enough, they incur a cost for their healthcare and in extreme
cases they have to resign altogether. This type of economic malfeasance can’t be acceptable anymore.
CEIC is leading the charge in fighting for this shift and challenges new licensees to shift how they value the labor that will power their businesses. We have to demand that the jobs that are inextricably tied to the newly available licenses be high paying jobs with quality, affordable benefits. Black, Indigenous and Latinx individuals should have access to these jobs, 401k and additional benefits that can measurably improve their lives and the lives of their families.
We will only ever be as good as our workforce and for too long we’ve undervalued the labor of the most vulnerable amongst us. The time is ripe for a change.
The importance of Community Equity and Inclusion Coalition or Cannabis Equity and Inclusion Coalition is to establish a community of advocates for equality and inclusion. Our current focus is the Cannabis Market Place in Nevada where the number of Black owned licenses is less than 1%. For more info visit ceicnv.org.