Black History Month – Cannabis Industry & Empire Stores 


Starting in 1970, the United States observes the entire month of February as Black History Month.  And it does not stop there.  Canada, Ireland, Netherlands and the United Kingdom also share this month as Black History Month.  What began as 1 week in February, that correlated with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, is now celebrated the entire month.  Since it started, Black History Month has led to various positive outcomes.  The initial goal was to help improve education and the school system in black communities as they were the most negatively affected by United States History.  Black History Month has since expanded and draws attention from around the world.  Businesses such as Instagram and Spotify take part and further push Black History Month by creating outreach marketing campaigns to help the community.  Forbes recently released an article in 2020 that highlights corporate companies that are also taking part –  The Coca-Cola CompanyGoogleTarget CorporationMacy’sUnited Parcel Service and Under Armour.  Black History Month continues to highlight the Black community and bring balance to years of injustice. 


The cannabis industry is an industry that has been marginalized and discriminated against and even more so within the black cannabis community.  The War On Drugs has been seen to victimize and single out the black community.  Cannabis began as a legal commodity which was dependent on slave labor to succeed.  The negative stereotype of cannabis began with Harry Anslinger who at first was recorded saying that cannabis is a no-big deal substance but quickly changed once he became in charge of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) in 1930.  Heroin and cocaine were now outlawed at this time and he needed to focus on a new drug and chose cannabis.  


Fast forward 85+ years and most of the United States has now legalized adult-use or medicinal cannabis.  Countries such as Canada, Israel, Portugal, and more are also adopting some form of legalization and export/import of cannabis has begun.  Cannabis is becoming accepted more everyday while there are still injustices that need to be fixed.  According to the ACLU, cannabis arrests account for over half of the drug arrests.  And while cannabis has roughly an equal demographic usage, blacks are 3.73 times more likely to get arrested.  The industry has begun to shed light to these matters and reform has begun.  As federal legalizations loom’s closer and closer, talks about reparations and reform become louder and louder.  There is a lot of belief that no one should be profiting off of cannabis while others are sitting in jail because of it.  Chris Henry is one of the minorities in the industry that owns a cannabis business and understands the trials and tribulations that one goes through. 


“Being a minority myself, I have taken the opportunities that cannabis has presented,” said Chris Henry. “What really drives me as an african american male to cannabis is looking at the history of drugs in america.  African americans are 3 times more likely to be arrested for a cannabis crime than any other race.” 


Empire stores is proud to be an advocate for minorities, cannabis, and the community.  Chris Henry is at the forefront of this passion and it trickles down throughout the entire company.  Empire continues to work with the city and the community in breaking the negative stigma that is associated with cannabis.   


“Empire goes a step above most cannabis companies.  We embed ourselves in the city helping to educate the city council members on the negative impacts that cannabis had in the past to minority communities,” explained Chris Henry.  “Being as diverse as Empire is, we’re able to take feedback from our staff about the impacts of cannabis in the communities that we operate in and help to identify where Empire can help clean up the communities.  We clean up the communities by working with a lot of the non-profits in each city.  We welcome you to join us at some of these community events.”  


The cannabis industry is here to stay and is growing faster everyday.  The cannabis community has gathered together to shed light on black owned cannabis companies.  It is important to support and educate the mainstream on the history of cannabis.  Empire dispensaries are proud to be black-owned and will continue to give back to the communities they are a part of and be the change that they want to see in other cannabis companies.  Empire will continue their monthly charity events and daily specials to give back as much as possible.  Empire thanks everyone for making them #1 in the Inland Empire.  


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