Legislators seek to boost minority-, women-owned businesses in medical marijuana industry

Minority- and women-owned businesses applying for licenses to grow, manufacture and sell medical marijuana products might get help from lawmakers. Two Kansas City legislators have introduced bills that would give the owners a slight edge. 

The state is required, by November’s approved constitutional amendment, to issue a total of at least 192 licenses throughout the eight congressional districts. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has already accepted more than $2 million in application fees. The bills would give minority- and women-owned businesses a 10 percent bonus when the state scores license applications. 

Kansas City businessman Dre Taylor said there’s a case for affirmative action in the state’s new medical marijuana industry. Marijuana-related arrests disproportionately affected black and latino users for decades despite data suggesting white people use cannabis at approximately the same rate.

Racial discrimination emerged in Washington state’s marijuana industry once it was legalized. The Missouri Cannabis Industry Association’s treasurer, Julita Latimer, said most business owners she meets in the industry are white and male. 

Read more: Kansas City Star.

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