Jay-Z launches $10m fund for minority-owned marijuana businesses

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Shawn Corey Carter, known professionally as Jay-Z is launching a fund to invest in minority-owned cannabis startups in hopes to usher in more Black participation in the cannabis industry.

The 51-year-old rap legend got into the business in October 2020, launching the Monogram cannabis line. Now, he wants to boost others to join him.

Jay-Z told The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that he is motivated by an imbalance in the marijuana business. People of colour, who have been disproportionately punished for involvement in the drug where it is illegal, comprise only a small number of those making money from the multibillion-dollar market in legalized cannabis.

“We were the ones most negatively affected by the war on drugs, and America has turned around and created a business from it that’s worth billions,” Jay-Z said to WSJ. “I wanted to do something in a real, concrete way, where I do my part.”

Jay-Z told the media outlet it is really unbelievable how that can happen.

WSJ reported that in the 25 years since California first legalized medical marijuana, cannabis has grown into a $20 billion legal business in the country that could surpass the $70 billion market for U.S. wine by 2030, according to an estimate by the New York investment bank Cowen & Co.

However, black people have reportedly struggled to access that lucrative market even though they’ve been far more likely than white people to get arrested for cannabis possession. A 2017 Marijuana Business Daily survey found that 81 per cent of cannabis business owners and founders were white while just 4.3 per cent were African-American.

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Jay-Z, who is starting his fund with $10 million in seed money received as part of a merger, joins a broader push for equitable economic opportunity in the cannabis sector, as studies show that minorities have borne the brunt of the law that kept the drug illegal more than white people.

Some 36 states have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, creating a massive industry for a drug that’s still illegal under federal law.