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Public Policy and Administration


Tony Gaskew


The cannabis industry in the United States is a competitive 16.9-billion-dollar industry built on private ownership, access to resources, operation for profit, and racism. However, under current cannabis policies, African American entrepreneurs are not benefiting from ownership and employment within the cannabis industry. Though some policies claim that the current medicinal and adult recreation laws will rectify racial disparities in arrest and ownership regarding cannabis sales, thus far, there are no sufficient increases to ownership, employment, or effective equity programs in place that accurately address racial disparities and the public policy barriers that keep African Americans excluded from the cannabis industry. This qualitative research study explored African American entrepreneurs’ perceptions about the public policy barriers they face attempting to enter the cannabis industry. Robinson’s theory of racial capitalism served as the theoretical foundation for this study. Data collection was through focused interviews, conducted with a snowball sample of participants. Data were coded and analyzed using a modified van Kaam method of analysis. The key findings in this study are the racialization, commodification, and the predatory inclusion African American cannabis entrepreneurs encounter in the application process, accessing capital, and garnering political and community support. Positive social change based on these findings, include recommendations for effective public policy that promote ownership and employment opportunities specifically for African Americans. This study is a guide to identifying racial capitalism in public policies by detailing how to identify patterns in public policy that promote White Supremacy and exclusion.