Paper- Research: How Diverse Is Canada’s Legal Cannabis Industry?

Published by the University of Toronto. Here’s the abstract

Importance of this project

What this means for public policy How this project was conducted • Laws criminalizing cannabis possession for personal use have had a disproportionate negative impact on Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) in Canada.

For example, recent data show that Black and Indigenous populations are substantially overrepresented in cannabis possession arrests in Canada.1 • In October 2018, Canada became the second country to nationally regulate recreational cannabis production and sales.

Many heralded the promise of this newly legal industry as an opportunity to rectify the injustices experienced by BIPOC under cannabis prohibition.

• The aim of this project was to examine the race and gender of c-suite level executives and directors of licensed producers 2 and parent companies 3 operating in the Canadian cannabis industry, in order to assess whether the promise of an equitable legal cannabis market has been achieved.

• Our analysis shows that Black and Indigenous people, and women, are vastly underrepresented in leadership positions in the Canadian cannabis industry, when compared to their representation in the general population.4 Conversely, White men are overrepresented.

• While there have been some limited initiatives to facilitate greater industry diversity, there is a notable absence of government regulation and adoption of programs that would structurally address the underrepresentation of racialized groups that were disproportionately targeted and punished under prohibition.

• Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal governments in Canada should adopt social equity programs that provide targeted avenues of entry into the cannabis industry, and provide related business and financial support for members of underrepresented groups, similar to those instituted in California, Massachusetts, and Illinois.5

• Tax revenue generated from legal cannabis sales can be used to support the creation of social equity programs.

• Private actors in the Canadian cannabis industry should recognize the value in diversifying the racial and gender makeup of executives and directors, and adopt strategies to achieve such diversification.

• We systematically assessed publicly available information on all individuals occupying positions with the greatest financial stake – namely, executives and directors – of licensed producers and their parent companies in Canada’s legal cannabis industry.

• We extracted data on perceived race and gender using a standardized protocol carried out by two of four independent and randomly assigned reviewers, with a senior author resolving conflicts. • We statistically analyzed the data to determine overall race and gender diversity in the leadership of Canada’s legal cannabis industry.


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