Results from a study recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Men’s Health found that cannabis use among young minority men was greatly influenced by their environment, friendships, and attitudes about masculinity. Lead researcher Tamara Taggart worked with a team of researchers at the Yale School of Public Health.
Looking at the socioeconomic implications of cannabis use for young minority men; the study found that cannabis use and over-use could be strongly related to chronic stress caused by environmental factors, combined with social attitudes toward masculinity affecting the likelihood of cannabis use.
Taggart theorized that, “For minority emerging adult males, neighborhood problems increase their vulnerability to engaging in marijuana use.”
Neighborhood problems were associated with areas that are economically disadvantaged, as well as “neighborhoods with lower social cohesion [that] are associated with negative health impacts including more violent crime, substance use, and mortality.”
Researchers also hypothesized marijuana use in minority young men also was affected by perceived masculinity norms and subject’s attitude toward masculinity, in relation to the impact of neighborhood problems. Traditional attitudes toward masculinity seem to indicate less likelihood to use cannabis, though strong social bonds between men indicated a tendency toward increased cannabis use.
The study pointed out young minority men also have been disproportionately affected by the negative repercussions of cannabis (and other illegal drug) use, including legal prosecution–a social problem that may be exacerbated by social stress in minority neighborhoods and attitudes toward traditional masculinity, as young men are developing their own sense of masculinity.
The study surveyed 119 men, 18-25 years old, who were heterosexual, English-speaking, from New Haven, Connecticut.
Stigma around cannabis is complex issue for communities of color, at a time when the cannabis industry is opening to increased investment, entrepreneurship, and employment. State regulators in California have implemented the Cannabis Equity Program to encourage opportunities and participation for diverse groups in the cannabis industry.
Oakland-based nonprofit Hood Incubator’s mission is to provide “healthy and sustainable ecosystem of industry access, resources, and support that benefits, rather than harms, Black and Brown communities.”
On Hood Incubator’s site, nationwide statistics said black people are up to four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. In the legal industry, black people comprise only five percent of company owners.
C.E. Hutton, a Denver-based business-consulting firm, is focused on working with diverse clients to access the cannabis industry through entrepreneurship or investment. Khadijah Adams, now a vice president at C.E. Hutton, founded MIPR Holdings, a cannabis-consulting firm that specialized in cannabis and communities of color and other diverse groups. Hutton has acquired MIPR.
“MIPR was founded in 2014, and I’ve seen more African-Americans enter the space since that time, and yet the industry still lacks diversity on a broader scale,” Adams described in a recent interview for mg magazine.
“Absolutely, there is a stigma attached to marijuana and African-Americans. This is primarily due to the impact that the failed ‘War on Drugs’ has had on our community across the nation,” she continued. “Many of us are reluctant to enter the cannabis or hemp space because of this; and most of us don’t want our neighbors, teachers, religious leaders, grandparents or parents to know that we’re even interested in the industry.”
In regards to changing attitudes toward cannabis, Adams encourages entrepreneurs and investors to consider the cannabis industry as a unique opportunity, comparable to the liquor industry when alcohol emerged from federal prohibition. If minority populations had been positioned to take advantage at that time, Adams speculated, benefits to those communities might have been significant.
Cannabis is here to stay, Adams said.
“I can’t say that I can predict the future, but I can say that more and more African-Americans and other minorities have woken up to the opportunity of entering in the cannabis and hemp industries over the past four years,” she said. “We recognize the power of true diversity within our communities, as well as the importance of positioning in these industries as either business owners, or as investors.”
For more on diverse markets, look for expert insight from Khadijah Adams and others, in mg magazine’s upcoming special Apr/May double issue.