Curaleaf Seeks Equity and Opportunity in Cannabis.

Curaleaf is one of the largest cannabis companies in the world. They currently have ten retail locations in the State of Illinois.  They recently announced a $950K contribution advancing social equity in Illinois. As part of Curaleaf’s “Rooted in Good” Initiative, the fund will be dispersed among six local Chicago Partners.

  • Illinois Cannabis Business Development Fund, $300,000
    • Managed by the Illinois Department of Commerce, this fund is intended to provide technical assistance and training to support prospective entrepreneurs interested in applying for cannabis business establishment licenses.
  • Olive-Harvey College – $250,000
    • The college, located on the Southside of Chicago which is an area that has been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs and cannabis criminalization, will be introducing an educational cannabis program, as well as a paid internship and scholarship program.
  • Growing Home – $100,000
    • Chicago’s leading expert in farm-based training for people with employment barriers will continue to provide on-the-job experience, job-readiness and help people overcome issues like criminal records and medical needs.
  • North Chicagoland Community College. – $100,000
    • As an educational partner, North Chicagoland Community College. is developing and introducing a cannabis program that will educate, mentor, and provide internships and career opportunities within cannabis for students.
  • Greater West Town – $100,000
    • Providing educational and economic opportunities for disadvantaged residents of the Greater West Town communities—areas that have been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs.
  • Cara Chicago – $100,000
    • Working with people affected by poverty and challenges like recovery, domestic violence, episodic homelessness, and incarceration. Cara Chicago helps unlock the power and purpose within the community and its people to achieve real and lasting success.

The “Rooted in Good” Initiative seeks to provide opportunities in communities where marijuana was criminalized.  Currently, black people are still more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people in every state, including those where marijuana is legal according to the ACLU.  Many Black and Brown people were incarcerated in an industry that is now mainstream.  Curaleaf believes that the greater cannabis community must rededicate themselves to righting those wrongs.

April 20 is normally a day people spend enjoying the cannabis community and products, however, Curaleaf wants to change 4/20 into a social justice day.

How can people support social justice on 4/20?

Engaging in thoughtful conversations within our communities about how to mitigate the harm caused by the War on Drugs and underscoring the importance of Black and Brown people being leaders in the industry moving forward.

  • Supporting products and companies that are intentionally creating a more just society.
  • Calling legislators to continue encouraging them to support criminal justice reform related to cannabis crimes.
  • Encouraging cannabis businesses to commit to hiring and promoting people from historically disadvantaged communities and/or people previously incarcerated for cannabis crimes.
  • or making donations to organizations focused on social justice in our community.

Rooted in Good works to ensure the development of a more inclusive industry. As part of their initiative, Curaleaf is reaching out to communities touched by cannabis-related offenses.  They have pledged to employ at least 10% of all 2021 new hires from these directly impacted communities.  Curaleaf is also adding diversity in the cannabis industry by working with 420 new cannabis brands, suppliers, and advocacy organizations from underrepresented communities.

The Chicago Defender had a chance to discuss equity in Cannabis with Curaleaf’s Chicago Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Raheem Uqdah.

Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSandersOfficial.



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