Tony Wafford (Courtesy photo)


It was 5:30 am and I was taking my morning walk.  As I got to the corner and was waiting for the light to change so I could safely cross the street, a car making a right turn with its windows down, bumping rap music — loud as hell and the smell of weed lit up the whole corner!

Now remember, it’s 5 o’clock in the morning, the sun hadn’t even come up yet!  I don’t know where this Negro was coming from or going to, but I do know this was crazy.  And if many of you are honest with yourselves, you too have been sitting at a red light and gotten a slight buzz from the car next to you.

Yes, I said it, this was crazy to me, and for all you politically-correct-talking folk that may be offended that I used the word “crazy” — OH WELL!  Unlike so many in this country and in the world today, I believe crazy is very much alive and doing well.

What other adjective can you use to explain Donald Trump and the entire MAGA movement?  Hillary Clinton was wrong when she said, “They were just a basket of deplorables,” I don’t know about you, but for me, on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, I saw more than a basket of crazy people, but as usual I digress.

How many of you remember all the community meetings hosted by Ms. Cat Parker who was recruited by the City of Los Angeles as well as the weed industry to be their voice in securing Black support for Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64) legalizing the recreational use of cannabis (weed)?  After the proposition passed, Ms. Parker went on to be executive director of the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Cannabis Regulation.  Unofficially, she is known as the city’s pot (weed) czar.

I went to a couple of meetings where Ms. Parker, weed dealers, wanna-be dope dealers, and yes, concerned members of our community met to talk about both the pros and cons of what the legalization of weed would have on our community.  I remember Ms. Parker’s biggest selling point was that after weed became legal, all these Black people, who had been locked up on weed charges, were going to be released from custody and have their records expunged; I was, and I still am in total support of that.

So I ask, ‘If Adult Use of Weed becomes legal for recreational use and someone from our community is looking for work and test positive for weed, will they still be able to get a job?’   That’s what was high on my list of priorities, because my son is a weed smoker and at the time, he was an unemployed weed smoker.  Nobody ever really wanted to address that, and it seems to me, that’s the question that should have been high on everybody’s list!

Did you know that there are at least 34,000+ marijuana cases that still have not been processed by the courts, according to an analysis of data provided by court officials throughout the state of California?  You do know that these delays in clearing these drug charges (now it’s called “drug charges”, not cannabis or marijuana) can and will create serious consequences for our people looking for work, securing licensing, getting housing, loans and any other area that may require a background check?

I would be derelict if I did not mention that many people showed up at these meetings hoping that they would be able to open their own dispensary and make some money selling weed in our community; even members of the clergy, that’s right, some preachers wanted to see how they could get in the weed business and make some of THAT money.

This was not new, some of you may have heard that Reverend Jamal Harrison Bryant, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA, wanted to use some of the church’s property to get into the cannabis (weed) business using weed as a type of “carrot” to bring Black men back to his church… his words not mine.

Growing and selling weed to recruit Black men to Christ?  I only hope that they don’t look at putting a pole in the pulpit, hoping to get strippers to come back to the church…. but I digress.

As I said, when California voters legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2016, one promise was the creation of a legal pathway through the courts for clearing marijuana (weed) related convictions or to reduce their charges.  It was going to be a small step towards righting the wrong, and injustices inflicted on Black people by the so-called, War on Drugs which was just a war on Black people.  Now here we are in 2023 and despite a 2018 law intended to speed up and automate the process, tens of thousands of Californians are still stuck with felonies, misdemeanors and other convictions on their records.

And for all of you wanna-be weed dealers, Black people aren’t getting their fair share of the weed business.  A report from Marijuana Business Daily shows that a little more than 4 percent of the weed business is in Black hands and another articles I read said that Black ownership is less than 2% of legal cannabis businesses in the United States.

Four percent or 2% isn’t it strange that for the first-time black people are underrepresented in the dope game, while whites account for more than 80 percent of the owners of weed businesses, guest why?  Because weed is predicted to be on track to be worth an estimated $70.6 billion globally by 2028 that’s why this green (both the weed and the money) is controlled by the white.  I know $70.6 billion is a lot of money, but as they say, all money ain’t good money!

Now check this out!  The argument for Blacks’ lack of ownership in the weed business is that the lack of banking options available, because of federal prohibition, means anyone who wants to start and support a business in the market needs a generous amount of cash on hand.  It takes hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars just to start such a business; money that most of our people don’t have.  So here comes Congress trying to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.

The bill would protect banks and other financial institutions from federal sanctions for working with legal cannabis businesses.  And the NAACP called for “immediate passage” of the safe banking bill arguing justly so, that our communities have always been targets of predatory lenders, and the cannabis industry is no exception.

NAACP, can we put that energy in other areas like fair housing, after school programs for kids, childcare and the list goes on?  After the civil unrest as a community, we fought like hell to stop the spread of liquor stores and short time motels in our community.

What makes us believe that Weed Shops, on every other corner is going to be the answer to our financial woes?  We did it once and we can do it again!  As Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”