The growing industry of marijuana is a profitable business that is allowed in certain states that recognize it as legal, either recreationally, medically or both. This a huge turnaround from the way weed was treated a couple of decades ago.
Black people in particular were (and still are) given harsh sentences for pot, and it's certainly not because African-Americans smoke more marijuana than any other race. In some cases, black people have even gotten life in prison for a small possession of herb.
This is in part what prompted Wanda James, the very first black woman to own a marijuana dispensary, to get into the cannabis industry. In the late 90s, James' brother was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison for just under 5 ounces of weed. James, who had smoked weed for years—and had professional friends who also did—was shocked to hear about her brother's arrest, as she only expected for law enforcement to give a slap on the wrist.
James along with her husband then decided to join the marijuana industry not only to earn money in the growing business, but to make a statement to the world about the unjust criminalization of marijuana and those who enjoy it.
"I think that all business owners in the cannabis realm should be active politically because it’s up to us to push this idea that we’re not doing anything wrong and that this should not be criminalized. As long as we act weird about it, and not forceful about it, it gives too many people the opportunity to paint this as a negative industry, or that there is something wrong with people who consume cannabis." said James to High Times in an interview last summer.
In addition to owning Simply Pure Dispensary in Denver, Colo., James was also the owner of several restaurants, but sold them to focus on her weed business. Fortune.com named black women the "fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in America" in 2015 and it's proving to be very much true, as black people as a whole are opting for entrepreneurship over a 9-to-5 more often. At a time when it's easier than ever to find black businesses to support, it's important we put our money where our mouths (or joints) are.