PuraPhy Special Report: Racial Justice In America, The CBD Industry Responds

*As hundreds of CBD, hemp and cannabis companies continue to address racial justice during this quickly developing moment in time, PuraPhy believes it’s critically important to take a stand.  PuraPhy.com will continue updating and informing our readers on new developments within our industry as the story unfolds. –The Editors

BY SIMONE TEAGUE 

Change. It’s happening all around us. With each passing day it feels less and less likely that we’ll ever return to the “normal” we once knew, and that’s the promising good news. All of us are in the midst of the largest civil rights movement the world has ever seen. The shocking death of George Floyd on May 25 has inspired people to take to the streets to protest for justice in more than 2,000 cities in all 50 states and demonstrations of solidarity have occurred in more than 60 countries—and counting. 

Floyd’s six-year-old daughter, Gianna, proclaimed that “Daddy changed the world,” and indeed he has. The Black Lives Matter movement has more allies than ever before and with such numbers comes strength and responsibility. This massive cultural wave of the racial justice movement has put pressure on all industries, including the CBD market. Consumers are asking companies what they’ve done to elevate, protect, and support Black people and are encouraging friends and followers to boycott brands that have chosen to stay silent. 

Consumers have been quick to call out those that haven’t been vocal because there are so many ways brands can show they actually believe Black Lives Matter.

Consumers have been quick to call out those that haven’t been vocal because there are so many ways brands can show they actually believe Black Lives Matter. Donating to organizations that fight for racial equality every day, supporting and promoting Black-owned business and Black artists, signing petitions to pressure those with the authority to change laws, and taking the time to learn about the reality of what it means to be Black in America are all actions that may be imperative to lasting change. 

It’s no secret that the CBD/hemp oil industry is a predominantly white space. In fact, in 2019, Kush Queen blog reported less than 5% of all cannabis businesses are Black-owned, but, Black people are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Pot Network recently commented on the lack of diversity in the CBD/hemp/cannabis space, claiming that “Black folks are locked out of the industry,” in the article “Hey, Cannabis Industry, Your Silence Is Deafening.” 

While it’s true that some companies posted a Black square on its social media platforms to show support for racial justice, some CBD/hemp oil brands have gone above and beyond to show just how much they care about making lasting change. Many companies are internally evaluating diversity issues, donating to social justice organizations, and joining the masses to protest in the streets. 

Let’s take a look at the tangible response Black business owners and industry allies have had to the call for social justice. 

Kush and Cute 

This beauty and canna-lifestyle accessory brand caters to the needs of women of color every day. Founder and CEO Iyana Edourad attended protests and continues to amplify Black and brown voices on Kush & Cute social media platforms. 

“I’ve been to a Black Lives Matter march and have been constantly posting and reposting resources and information related to BLM, how to donate to organizations, and what petitions to sign on all my social media platforms. I also personally printed and posted flyers around my neighborhood with resources (links and websites) as well. And, of course, I’ve been sharing a lot of fellow Black-owned cannabis brands,” Edourad said. “Another thing is that I hope consumers encouraging brands to take action becomes the new normal. I really do hope we continue to see this same energy from people months from now and continue to see people supporting Black-owned businesses and non-profit organizations beyond this. Change isn’t a short-term thing; it needs to be long term to be effective.”

Papa and Barkley 

At Papa and Barkley people of color occupy leadership roles, including Co-founder Guy Rocourt and Chief Marketing Officer Kimberly Dillon. On June 1, Rocourt took to Instagram on behalf of the brand to share his thoughts and feelings on the state of the country. In the video, Rocourt says that “we’re not about statements, we’re about action” and promised his audience that “we’ll continue to engage in action, not words.” 

So far, the company has donated to the Loveland Foundation, an organization that focuses on opportunity, access, and healing for Black women and girls, the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles Chapter, and ActBlue, a bail fund for protestors. 

Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web is one of the biggest CBD companies in the country, and their response has been noticed. The brand has added a tab at the top of their website homepage titled “Our Actions and Commitment to Black Lives,” where they’ve detailed their thoughts and course of action. 

“Charlotte’s Web didn’t start as a brand, but as a mission. The fight for others’ rights is our driving reason for our existence. We stand with Black Lives. We see you. We are listening. We are taking action. We will be accountable,” says the statement on their website. 

Charlotte’s Web is working on launching a diversity and inclusion program to address internal issues, has stated their commitment to mentoring Black-owned CBD startups, and will provide employment opportunities and job training for people seeking to rebuild their lives from addiction, homelessness and incarceration through Women’s Bean Project & Mile High Workshops. 

Lazarus Naturals  

Lazarus Naturals has always been committed to making CBD products accessible to those who need them most. The company gives veterans, individuals on long-term disability, and those from low-income households a 60% discount on all products every day. Further, Lazarus Naturals donated $10,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon Foundation, which fights for free speech, racial justice, criminal justice reform, religious liberty, reproductive rights, LGBTQI+ rights, immigrant rights and more.

On social media, the company also promised to donate “$100,000 every year moving forward to causes that support criminal justice reform, voting reform, government accountability and other issues that help solve inequality.” 

Plant People 

Plant People is an environmentalist-oriented brand with a full spectrum of cannabinoid products, and the company is no stranger to supporting non-profit initiatives dedicated to creating lasting change. Plant People is partnered with American Forests and the brand plants a tree for every product sold. 

In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, the company has shown its commitment to social justice. Plant People has donated to Campaign Zero, an organization that analyzes policing practices and conducts research to identify effective solutions to end police violence. The company has also pledged to offer ongoing support to organizations such as Reclaim the Block, Fair Fight, and the Equal Justice Initiative, all of which work for restorative justice.  

Additionally, Plant People created a dedicated story highlight on their Instagram that lists places to donate to, educational resources, and suggestions of actions that their customers can take to continue to support the movement.  

Equilibria

Equilibria is all about creating CBD products that cater to the needs of women. For the month of June, Equilibria is donating 15% of profits to five organizations that protect and support Black people, particularly Black women. 

The organizations that will receive funds from Equilibria are Black Girls CODE, a group that teaches computer coding lessons to young girls from underrepresented communities; Black Mamas Matter Alliance, a collective that advocates, drives research, builds power, and shifts culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice; The Orka Project, which feeds and severs Black transgender individuals; the Last Prisoner Project, an organization dedicated to criminal justice reform; and the Loveland Foundation.  

Equilibria has also promoted Black-owned businesses and social justice organizations on all its social media platforms. The company’s Employee Action Fund is supporting the work of the Black Art Futures Fund, Blount Objects, Semicolon Bookstore, Greer Chicago, and My Block, My Hood, My City. 

Kush Queen 

This woman-owned beauty brand has everything from skin serums to bath bombs, and founder Olivia Alexander is constantly giving back. Kush Queen regularly supports non-profits such as the BeYOUtiful Foundation, which provides resources for women of all ages defying the odds against cancer and Trans Lifeline, a peer-support hotline led by trans people for trans people. Most recently, the company has been promoting the work of Byp100, The Black Youth Project 100, whose She Safe, We Safe campaign is working to end gender-based violence. Kush Queen is donating $5 to the project for every Black Magic bath bomb sold. 

Kush Queen has also made Juneteeth, a holiday that commemorates the liberation of enslaved Black Americans, a paid day off for all employees. 19% of all sales made on Juneteeth was donated to Byp100 to benefit the She Safe, We Safe campaign.