Even though Rev. Al Sharpton doesn’t personally consume marijuana, he is calling for the weed industry to fix its diversity problem.
The Cannabis World Congress Business Exposition in New York is on Friday, and Sharpton will be a keynote speaker. He is expected to address the lack of diversity in the marijuana industry as well as its decriminalization and the lopsided number of arrests of black people in criminalizing marijuana.
“Just because I don’t use marijuana as a Minister, does not mean I have the right to impose my moral values on others,” Sharpton said in statement to HuffPost. “However, I will challenge the cannabis industry and its distributors in states where it is legal to support civil rights movements and ensure that we are not disproportionately excluded from business opportunities.”
The focus of his remarks at the expo itself, however, will be on mass incarceration, especially with respect to the fact that black people are far more likely to be arrested for marijuana-related charges than white people.
“Decriminalization and diversity are hot buttons for this industry, and there is a low percentage of canna-businesses owned by people of color,” said Scott Giannotti, Managing Director, CWCB Expo Events. “To have one of the nation’s most prominent voices speak on this topic at CWCBExpo is an extreme honor. This is a turning point for the industry and we are proud to have Rev. Sharpton inspire real action forward.”