Cannabis Equity funds
Through partnerships with cannabis businesses, the Pennywise Cannabis Equity Fund will leverage and distribute resources aimed at addressing the devastating consequences of the racist policies and practices of cannabis prohibition and the broader “war on drugs.”
Punitive drug laws in the United States have served as sharp tools of oppression. They aggressively target Black, Latinx, Indigenous, other people of color, and people who are experiencing poverty. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, black people were three times more likely to be arrested for drugs than white people, despite using and selling drugs at the same rates.
Some policies are, finally, evolving- particularly in regard to cannabis. Close to half the states have legalized adult use sales, more have removed criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of cannabis and a substantial majority have legalized medical cannabis programs. The legal cannabis industry is now generating tens of billions of dollars per year.
The transformation of cannabis from a prohibited to a commercial product is a sign of progress, but it also creates an inherent injustice. While the enforcement of cannabis laws has dramatically disproportionately impacted poor communities of color, legal cannabis businesses are dramatically disproportionately owned by white men. The Pennywise Foundation, together with our cannabis business partners, are launching the Cannabis Equity Fund in recognition of this paradox. Its aim is to promote a culture in the cannabis industry that acknowledges the suffering caused by cannabis prohibition and demands ongoing racial justice and criminal legal system reform as well as fair access to income opportunities.
Goals of the Cannabis Equity Fund:
- To help cannabis businesses offer resources to individuals and communities that have been most harmed by the racist policies and practices of cannabis prohibition
- To increase access of BIPOC and others disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition to the cannabis industry
- To support nonprofit organizations working towards saner drug policies
- To support nonprofit organizations combating racism and economic injustice within the criminal legal system
Participating businesses will allocate a percentage of their profits or otherwise dedicate resources to support these goals. Funds will be administered by the Pennywise Foundation and allocated in ways that are i) consistent with charitable purposes as defined by the IRS, ii) consistent with the priorities of the partner businesses and iii) that will further the articulated goals of the Cannabis Equity Fund.
Allied nonprofit organizations include: