Helping Ex-offenders & Minorities Participate (HEMP) Program
The HEMP Program is dedicated to including minorities in the hemp and CBD industries. We are located in beautiful Lincoln, TN just shy of the Alabama State line. Our farm’s mission is to provide opportunities in sustainable farming, making CBP and hemp products and workshops on wellness aspects. We specifically target individuals who have been negatively impacted legally or incarcerated because of Cannabis to offer them legal opportunities to work in Cannabis. We also aim to work with the court system as a diversion program for young people who have gotten in trouble with Cannabis.
The food and beauty world's current infatuation with CBD has arguably helped normalize the use of cannabinoids, and perhaps even the larger hemp — the plant CBD is derived from — and cannabis industries as well. But these are the same industries that were once viewed as deviant, and have plagued black communities with criminal convictions and decades of family separations as a result.
However, with the 2018 Farm Bill legalizing hemp production in the United States, a new path for black people to finally benefit from this market was created. Yet, it's their white counterparts who appear to be the face of the CBD industry.
Blacks are the only group disproportionately targeted by arrest, primarily for cannabis possession, despite data that shows people of all races consume cannabis at the same rate. The U.S. cannabis industry overall is reported to have less than 3% of licensed businesses owned by Black people. (source: Marijuana Business Daily, 2017).
Marijuana Business Daily found that only about 5% of senior roles in the cannabis industry were held by women of color. And when it came to business ownership in the same industry, women only made up 27% of people who had launched their own business, while racial minorities accounted for a mere 19%.
Diversity in the legal CBD industry is important for a variety of reasons. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons is breaking down the stigma that has long linked minorities and cannabis use.
Diversifying the industry can also open the doors to more consumers. With people of all walks of life involved in the business of producing and selling legal cannabis, a more diverse group of consumers can be reached. A certain level of trust and support may be felt among minority consumers who may feel more comfortable with exchanges between others of the same or similar background and race.
Women in cannabis, especially minority women, tend to fare worse on funding than their male counterparts. Women of color are receiving even less financial support in terms of access to capital and opportunities and even leveraging relationships.
With your support we can provide more trainings for minorities, better access to farming opportunities, microloans for beginning farmers, criminal diversion opportunities for youth, as well as job opportunities for ex-offenders. Together we can lead in advocating social equity and minority inclusion in the CBD industry.