Have you heard about “D.C.’s Loudest Secret,” local Initiative-71 also known as I-71? This initiative allows for the transfer of marijuana from person to person but prohibits any kind of payment or exchange of goods. Understand there have been loopholes regarding marijuana laws in D.C., which led to the creation of the popular ”Gifting System”. 

Right now, business owners are starting to hide under the radar due to contributing factors that put their shops at risk. Last year D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced an emergency bill that would have heavily fined these gifting shops or shut them down permanently. Many Washingtonians love the new gift shops and are gathering together to advocate in favor of the cannabis industry. A local group called Generational Equity Movement (GEM) has been making huge efforts and contributions to bring awareness to this new bill. As a result, GEM was able to get the bill overturned but there is still more work to be done.

 

“We don’t want D.C. to mirror other states where Black people are pushed out of the cannabis market that they have built, and equity is an afterthought in legislative decisions,” says GEM’s Community Lead. “We want people to walk away from the event feeling involved in the Generational Equity Movement’s fight.”

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the special screening of the Young, Gifting, and Black documentary. This documentary educated individuals like myself with more information on the narrative around I-71 gifting shops and emphasized the importance of these Black-owned businesses in the community. A documentary was also shown that talked about the position of Black-owned businesses within the DMV.

After hearing numerous testimonials and experiences among DC residents, it made me realize that I-71 does not only provide a place of employment but it gives employees a space to learn and grow among other Black entrepreneurs. During the documentary, a man shared how he was able to start up and fund his business just from working at an I-71 business. This just goes to show that this bill serves as an opportunity for the African-American community to learn new traits and make more income.

The U.S. cannabis industry is worth over 33 billion dollars and the global cannabis industry is expected to reach over 130 billion dollars in the next six years. For many, this is exciting news as this will lead to opportunities for new startups and overall economic growth. For others, particularly the Black community, this is an ongoing fight to stay visible, respected and protected. For them, this is a mix of hope and fear.

 

 

 

UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS NOT AN EMERGENCY

An emergency bill means immediate shuttering of our stores, bringing economic growth for black communities to a HALT. I-71 has been the law of the land since 2015. A four-day emergency measure done in the dark of night with no public hearing is astonishing. An emergency bill will not stop the real violence that is hurting our communities. Nor do we see an emergency bill regarding much-needed policy reform and gentrification.

I-71 Stores are Innovators Who Want a Piece of the Leaf

The barriers to entry for minority cannabis owners are exceptionally high and one of the primary drivers is strictly limiting licenses for adult use which starts with an extraordinarily limited medical program.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SUPPORT?

Tell the Council of DC they need to stand with the Generational Equity Movement and 70% of DC and national voters who SUPPORT recreational cannabis.

 

About Generational Equity Movement (GEM)

The Generational Equity Movement is a coalition led by 5 Black-owned cannabis businesses in Washington, D.C. Our growing coalition is the voice for Black, millennial business owners who make up a meaningful segment of the local I-71 market. The GEM Coalition supports a strong, safe, and the regulated cannabis industry in the District. The Generational Equity Movement Coalition has worked hard to expand safe access to cannabis, employ D.C residents, and operate within the uncertain confines of the law, aka “the gray.” In doing so, we have also created spaces for mindfulness, creativity, and growth in the workplace.

 

For more information, please visit https://www.generationalequitymovement.com/#about

Click out the trailer to Young, Gifted & Black down below.

 

About Abu Sillah

Abu is a Journalist & Business Owner from Prince George's County, MD. He is the CEO of The DMV Daily and Marketing Manager of The Wig Café, LLC. In May 2018, Abu obtained his B.A. in Sociology from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and is now attending Bowie State University for his M.A. in Organizational Communications.

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