The South’s Marijuana ‘Green Rush’ Failing People of Color

Joe Kukura SAVE THIS


From all appearances, it has been a very good month for cannabis legalization in the southern United States. Full medical marijuana rights are moving quickly through South Carolina’s legislature and Georgia recently legalized medical marijuana in the form of low-potency oils. A landmark Alabama bill decriminalizing possession and expunging past convictions cruised unanimously through a state Senate committee.

These are small steps, yet the South conspicuously has the fewest legal cannabis states of any region in the country. Recreational marijuana is illegal in all southern states and just three states (Arkansas, Florida, and Louisiana) allow for the sale of medical marijuana in any form other than those low-dose Cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp products. The South also has the highest concentration of African Americans of any US region and, just as the national medical marijuana movement is primarily a white, higher-income phenomenon, the growth of the cannabis industry…

Subscribe to The North Star

Subscribe for $10 a month to gain access to this and many more articles from The North Star.

Do you already have an account?


Join The Conversation

One comment

  • dsim002

    I’m not black but I am a Korean American who is currently living in Florida and have worked in a marjiuana lab for one month before I quit due to the racism of this industry. I worked as a lab tech, extracting the weed into vape pens. I’ve noticed that this specific business never had a person of color in charge, from supervisor positions to as high as the executive positions. The manager who has hired me specifically told me that he would like to hire someone like me because he would like me to test the samples since “there aren’t a lot of people who look like me sampling the product.” The culture in the lab hired a lot of POC but the lab was very segregated, the POC (around 40%~ the lab) talked to themselves while the white workers worked amonged themselves. If there were interactions between the two, it would be stories of conflict. Most of the incidents between the white and POC workers, the consequences were faced by POC workers. One woman spoke out about how her supervisor said “it’s so hot it’s cotton picking weather” and scoffed at her saying “what are you going to do about it?”. A lot of black female workers had an understanding that there were certain workers who were openly racist and tried to find ways to avoid her due to the emotional labor she brought. Also, it’s very telling to note that in a staff of over 100 people, there are only 2 asian workers (including myself) and I personally have been discrimated based of my asian heritage. I got awkward come-ons and got called filthy dog eater before I decided to complain. The only people who were able to empathize were the other WOC coworkers but whenever I’ve tried to talk to my superviser, she has told me “oh that’s unfortunate but we’re probably not going to do anything about it” when I have asked her what was the company’s next path forward when making a racial discrimination complaint. I don’t mean to overshadow the experiences of black American specifically with this industry’s racism by talking about my experience but I wanted to highlight how the inner workings of this industry do have a racist undertone to them.

    Another sad reality of this was that I’ve always felt that the best way to help those who were incarcerated for drug possession was to open a medical marijuana lab that specifically hires only those whose been hurt by this system. I’ve hope to make it a laboratory so we can encourage these men into STEM career. This could be a good way to reintroduce those hurt by over-enforcement to our society in a way where they can be productive members but because of white supremacy, it is now just THAT much harder for POC, specifically black Americans to get into this industry.

Join the Conversation