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Business & Economy

Helping minorities cash in on the pot biz: It's 'not just selling weed'




A legal marijuana grow in Colorado.
A legal marijuana grow in Colorado.
Brett Adam Levin via Flickr

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This fall, California votes on whether to legalize recreational marijuana.

And if Prop 64 passes-- that's the Adult Use of Marijuana Act-- Virgil Grant wants to make sure minorities like himself will benefit.

That's why he co-founded the California Minority Alliance. Its goal is to help minority entrepreneurs start businesses in the marijuana industry.

Grant got into the medical marijuana business early on, but there haven't been many others who've done the same.

"You have 186 pre-ICO licenses in the city of Los Angeles," Grant says. "And you have three African Americans who own three out of the 186."

Pre-ICO licenses are ones for medical marijuana dispensaries that were set up before Los Angeles passed an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO) in 2007 that prohibited any new medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in the city.

One big reason why more minorities haven't gotten into the marijuana industry already, Grant says, is because the traditional relationship between minorities and pot hasn't been a positive one.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, while black and white people use pot in equal measure, African Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for pot possession.

For people who are interested in getting involved in the marijuana business now, Grant says there are a whole host of opportunities to get involved in-- from cultivation and manufacturing to ancillary businesses like web design and carpentry.

"When I say it's an industry, it's an industry," Grant says. "It's not just selling weed. Those days are over with."

To hear the full interview with Virgil Grant, click the blue player above.