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Fighting ‘remnants of the War on Drugs’: A look at the National Hemp Association’s efforts to break down racist barriers

The legacy of systemic racism and the War on Drugs is playing out in today’s hemp industry, which remains dominated by white landowners and people with access to large amounts of capital.

The National Hemp Association recently launched a new effort to change that. The group’s Standing Committee on Social Equity has gathered business leaders of color in the hemp sector and charged them with finding ways to bring more diversity and inclusion to the industry, and to educate people outside the hemp industry about low-THC cannabis and its role in communities of color.

Hemp Industry Daily recently caught up with NHA leaders to find out more about the project and its goals. Editor Kristen Nichols interviewed Dozeir Mbonu, chairman of the new committee, along with Erica Stark, NHA’s executive director.

Mbonu laid out the NHA’s action plan – including pushing for farmers of color to get “the same kind of access to all the things that are supposed to be available to the agricultural community.”

He plans to help farmers of color connect with buyers to increase profits and also focus on expanding opportunities in manufacturing and research.

“It’s not just about being the landowner,” Mbonu added.

The group also plans to advocate for removing a federal requirement that drug felons be barred from hemp business ownership for 10 years, a requirement in the 2018 Farm Bill that disproportionately excludes some communities from getting licenses to grow hemp.

“It’s still hindering the very communities we are trying to uplift, and it makes no sense,” Stark said.

To learn more about the National Hemp Association’s inclusion plans, check out this exclusive interview.

Kristen Nichols can be reached at [email protected]

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