They say pressure creates diamonds. Tough yet beautiful materials created under the harshest conditions. This analogy seems appropriate to the pressure. Founded by DeMarco Morehead and Muhammad Yusuf, the company has embarked on a mission to use its brand and influence to correct social inequalities in the medical cannabis space in Missouri.
For Youssef and Morehead, the disparity in equitable cannabis and licensing is more than theoretical, practicality has even eluded the duo from applying for licenses – the basic requirements that were put in place made it unrealistic for many in disadvantaged communities to participate in the application process .
“We wanted to apply for licenses, but the barriers were too high. Licensing fees are just the tip of the iceberg, consultants, property, legal costs, etc. Within the black community, we don’t have access to the same generational wealth that you see in the dynamics The other family We will consider progress if there is another licensing round “We are currently working on political considerations that can reduce the barriers to allowing more minority entrepreneurs to enter this field,” Youssef said.
Morehead, who grew up in North St. Louis, and Joseph, who hails from South City, are the embodiments of what a local, equitable, and inclusive program can look like.
“DeMarco and I grew up watching family members and friends turned away from their cannabis use or sale. We want to help reshape the narrative around cannabis in communities of color,” Joseph told Greenway. “We look forward to setting an example and showing other black entrepreneurs that you can also find opportunity in this industry.”
“This factory, which has been used as a tool of mass incarceration for over 80 years, is now making millions of dollars for people-owned businesses outside of communities of color, while our people are still in prison for selling the same factory; that’s double the injustice.”
“PressureCo. is an equitable cannabis brand that focuses on achieving inclusion and economic empowerment in the cannabis industry,” explained Yousef. “Despite the assurances about diversity and inclusion in the licensing process, black entrepreneurs are not underrepresented in the industry and we look forward to helping impact this inequality. Rather than simply amplifying inequality, we decided to take real action by forming a brand committed to change.”
This change comes in many forms, including a new scholarship program that will provide minorities with the tools they need to access the rapidly growing cannabis industry.
“While doing the research, we found that SLU cannabis is a certificate program that offers 16 credits to students to help advance their education within or outside the cannabis industry. We quickly realized that if we wanted to be more than an idea, we needed to make a real impact,” Yusef explained, “We obtained 501c3 status for our nonprofit Exit-Now and realized the scholarship program called Equity-Now.”
“The leadership of SLU has been very responsive and welcoming to us, and we are honored to have a scholarship in our name. This scholarship will pay tuition for minority applicants to attend SLU’s cannabis science program, to create inclusion and systemic change within the industry. We want to lead with purpose while using cannabis as a vehicle for change.” Cannabis + influence = pressure firm.”
In addition to creating educational opportunities, Presurico. Looking for companies that want to move the industry forward.
“Through licensing agreements, we are looking to be a purpose-driven brand on the shelves, donating a portion of the profits to our nonprofits and other organizations working to address the negative effects of the war on drugs on communities of color.”
“By working with like-minded growers and manufacturers here in the state, and companies that believe in addressing social justice in the Missouri cannabis space, we aim to give the consumer a conscious producer of cannabis. Hemp for a purpose.”
“At the end of the day, the company’s values have to align with ours and then we can bring about change together. Everyone we partner with will have the opportunity to be on the right side of history.”
Currently, industry and society are at a standstill. There is a dichotomy between industrial growth and cannabis-centric capitalism. There is growing support for federal legislation, with a recent poll showing that more than 60% of American adults support, and normalize, cannabis consumption – for medical and recreational use. Martha Stewart has a cannabis brand and has partnered with Canopy Growth, while Snoop Dogg has become a mainstay on network television. Cannabis is no longer a taboo and we have gone beyond removing the stigma of the plant in mainstream culture. But all this has been achieved while many are still imprisoned for possession or sale. While this parralel alone should be a reason for the industry to seek reform, the numbers speak volumes about the racial disparity that still exists in the enforcement of rules and laws surrounding cannabis.
for every NORML Fact Sheet, Racial Disparity in Marijuana Arrests, “African Americans are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at nearly four times the rates of whites, yet both races consume marijuana at roughly the same rates.”
A 2021 analysis of marijuana-related arrests in 2020 in the five boroughs of New York City reported that people of color made up 94 percent of arrests.
AMNY.com, people of color made up 94 percent of marijuana arrests by the NYPD in 2020, according to data from Legal Aid, 2021.
a 2021 analysis From Milwaukee County, the Wisconsin District Attorney’s Office reported that black Wisconsin residents were 4.3 times more likely than their white counterparts to be charged with marijuana use. The worst disparities in Wisconsin are in Ozaki County, where blacks are 34.9 times more likely to be arrested and Manitowoc County, where blacks are 29.9 times more likely to be arrested.”
Wisconsin Public Radio, Report: Black Wisconsin residents 4.3 times more likely to be convicted for marijuana possession, 2021
a 2020 تحليل Analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union, and concluded that “Blacks are 3.64 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite similar use rates.” The authors reported, “In every state, blacks were more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana, and in some states, blacks were six, eight, or nearly ten times more likely to be arrested. In 31 states, racial disparities were greater in 2018 than they were in 2010.”
ACLU, A Tale of Two States: Racist Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform, 2020
These findings were similar to a 2013 analysis by the ACLU, which previously concluded, “[O]On average, a black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than a white person, even though blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates. Such racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests exist in all regions of the country, in counties large and small, urban and rural, rich and poor, with large and small black populations. In fact, in more than 96% of counties with more than 30,000 people where at least 2% of the population is black, blacks are arrested at higher rates than whites for marijuana possession.”
ACLU, The Black and White War on Marijuana, 2013
For Youssef and Price Co., these statistics indicate the need for partners who are willing to move forward rather than lip service about issues.
“(We want) companies to put their money where it’s at. They ask themselves, ‘If I profit while someone is in prison for the same thing, what can I do to make a change?'”
Youssef continued, “They can partner with nonprofits like Exit-Now to create more education in minority communities, and create more inclusion. They can hire and train a diverse staff that represents all cannabis consumers. They can get to the bottom and raise the profile of a minority owned brand or hire a business.” A black owned subsidiary of air conditioning or whatever they might need.”
“We see Presurico. As a brand that can pressure the industry to address this stark disparity. For us, this is more than just selling cannabis, social reform and systemic change through this product really has many benefits.”
Many countries have tried to obtain share licenses and most have missed the point. Setting aside specific licenses around social equity applicants, outlining and providing application support, creating equity funds to help pay high costs for attorneys and consultants, and removing real estate requirements are a few examples to get started. We don’t claim to have all the answers but there is a need to have an honest conversation about what “getting it right” looks like.
To learn more about Pressureco, go to pressureco-mo.com and on Instagram at instagram.com/pressurecom_mo
Also check out Instagram.com/exitnow_.