This week's decision by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make it easier for prosecutors to use federal laws to crack down on states that have legalized pot is opening up a conversation about racial equity in the marijuana industry.
"The Jeff Sessions decision only goes after the rich and privileged it has no effect on the already affected communities because we're not involved," said Aaron Bossett, a consultant in the cannabis industry.
Bossett was a speaker at the Cannabis Alliance Washington State Cannabis Summit Friday. He was also one of the only people of color at the conference.
“There has to be some sort of conscious effort to change what's going on right now," said Bossett. "I'm in a room of people who are interested in progressing the cannabis face but I'm also the only black male representing an entire community they get to represent individually."
The Seattle Times in 2016 reported on the underrepresentation of people of color and ownership in the legal pot businesses in Washington. Asians represented less than eight percent. Black and Latinos were less than four percent of legal pot owners in the state. Oscar Velasco Schmitz, who is on the board of the Cannabis Alliance, says private equity has fueled this industry.
"Minorities having less access to equity resources and so they're less representation in the cannabis industry and the larger group they have representation," said Schmitz.
A spokesperson from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board said it does not keep statistics on minority-owned pot businesses in the state.