My Election Season Motto: L’Union fait la force

Being Black in 2020 is especially exhausting. We have always struggled a bit and had to grit our teeth through certain circumstances, but 2020 has really been different. From George Floyd’s murder to the inaction of our President in ensuring the safety of Americans in response to a global pandemic, we have a target on our backs.

So, why would the cannabis space be any different? We continue to see well-funded MSOs (Multi-State Operators) dominate. The social equity and economic empowerment programs limp along with really little hope for social equity (SE) and economic empowerment (EE) operators to obtain financing in the COVID era. And, we now have several CCC seats opening which leaves a level of uncertainty as to what’s to come next.

Massachusetts has to be the most heavily regulated cannabis market nationally, if not globally. Companies are paying fines for using cloning gel. This is not the legal industry that I think most of us dreamed about. We dreamed about equal opportunity. We dreamed about giving opportunities back to those who were harmed by the war on drugs. We dreamed about robust programs to actually empower those who have been damaged. We dreamed about expungements.

There is so much work to do. We cannot get complacent. We cannot accept what is not just. Yes, 2020 has thrown us all off our feet. But sometimes, many times, we must hit rock bottom before reaching for the stars. We can make this better. We will make this better, as a community.

The Haitian motto, which is emboldened on their flag is, “L’Union fait la force” (“Union makes strength”). So as a community, we must stand with each other to right the wrongs and make our industry the one we all dreamed of.

In recognition of the 100-year anniversary of Women’s suffrage, which didn’t provide Black women with the right to vote (that didn’t happen until the The Voting Rights Act of 1965), I implore you all to vote. Vote like your life depends on it because it very well might. Black lives matter. Let me say that again: Black lives matter. All our lives matter. It is time for us to end racism and the systems that were built on it.

About the author: Jennifer Gaskin is the Outreach Program Specialist with ELEVATE Northeast. Based in Worcester, MA, Jennifer is a seasoned community organizer, event manager, and operations and compliance professional. Jennifer is also Co-Founder and President of Empress and Bandit Greenery, a family-owned premium cannabis cultivator that embraces sustainable growing methods for high-quality yields (,,

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