THE ARCVIEW GROUP COMMITMENT: Racial Justice Support

As the country struggles to come to grips with the murder of George Floyd and countless other black and brown people who never deserved such a terrible fate, many people and organizations are taking a look at their sphere of influence in impacting change. At Arcview, we’ve identified our work at the intersection of cannabis and business as the area in which we can have the biggest impact.

The war on drugs has played a big role in creating many of the conditions in which these tragedies occur. It disproportionately impacts the black community. Cannabis criminalization and enforcement have been a major tool in the arsenal of those who oppress and disenfranchise this community. Cannabis is still one of the most common excuses for police interactions.

The Arcview Group was founded 10 years ago on the principle that business can be one of the most powerful platforms for social change. Over the years, Arcview has raised millions of dollars to end the racist prohibition of cannabis in the United States and abroad with the goal of creating a world in which no adult is ever prosecuted for their use of the plant. Our co-founder Troy Dayton is chair of the board of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a cofounder of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), and a founding board member of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). Co-founder Steve DeAngelo helped found both NCIA and the Last Prisoner Project. David Abernathy, our Vice President of Research & Consulting, serves on the board of the Minority Cannabis Business Association. In conjunction with advocates and activists, these many years of effort have started to bear fruit but there remains a lot of work to be done.

Even as prohibitions of cannabis are lifted in state after state, racist policing continues to destroy the social fabric of communities of color. At the same time, as cannabis becomes more mainstream, the kinds of networks of privilege that exist in other industries are being mirrored in the cannabis industry.

People who are white, wealthy, well educated, or who have not been subjected to the kind of discriminatory policing experienced by so many people of color, have an advantage when it comes to entering the newly legal cannabis space. They often have access to more resources, personal networks, funding, and a completely different legal risk assessment than people of color.

It is for these reasons that we commit to doing the work necessary to ensure that both space and opportunity exists for communities of color in this rapidly growing and evolving market. Arcview remains committed to creating a free, fair, and just cannabis industry in which all people have opportunities to succeed and thrive. It is for this reason that we are redoubling our efforts to make sure that our resources, knowledge, expertise, and network are available to entrepreneurs of color.

Today Arcview is making 5 commitments to support racial justice:

We are launching a new mentorship program specifically designed to help minority-owned businesses get access to the resources that they need to grow and succeed. Businesses that are selected will also have access to scholarship grants to join Arcview as Founder Members.
Since we understand how important it is to have diversity among investors as well as entrepreneurs, today we announce that we are offering a free one year Arcview Investor Membership to any Black or Latino accredited investor who has previously placed at least $50,000 of their own capital into angel investments, is actively looking for investments in the cannabis space, and is not a current Arcview member.
We will also make our industry leading library of cannabis market research available to nonprofit organizations that serve minority communities in the cannabis space and/or work to end cannabis prohibition including the Minority Cannabis Business Association, Minorities for Medical Marijuana, The Hood Incubator, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, MPP, and NCIA.
Additionally, Arcview will be making a donation to the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) whose tireless work is helping to realize the kind of change that is necessary to create an industry that is as diverse as our country is. We would like to invite you to join us in donating to the MCBA (https://minoritycannabis.org/) and other organizations dedicated to helping to level the playing field so that communities of color can continue to recover from the effects of centuries of slavery, subjugation, discrimination, and systemic violence.
In the coming months we will pull together key people for a special Arcview Access Webinar devoted to this important topic.
For the many investors in our network who enjoy success and opportunity, we call on you to use that success to help uplift and support communities of color during these troubling times and beyond. In addition to listening to people of color with open ears, open minds, and open hearts, here are a few concrete steps you can take to be part of the solution:
  1. Prioritize diversity, inclusion, and representation among the management of the companies in your portfolio. Not only is this the right thing to do, but studies show that it will likely have an overwhelmingly positive impact on your returns. This is something we need to do better at Arcview, too. (https://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1151&context=mgmt_papers and https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228857259_Cultural_Diversity_in_Management_Firm_Performance_and_the_Moderating_Role_of_Entrepreneurial_Orientation_Dimensions)
  2. Seek out investors who don’t come from the same background as you and invest alongside them. Just as diversity within your portfolio companies has a correlation with higher returns, so too does diversity among your investor group. (https://hbr.org/2018/07/the-other-diversity-dividend)
  3. Donate to the organizations doing the work to create opportunity for people of color. The Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM), and The Hood Incubator are all great choices. (https://minoritycannabis.org/, https://minorities4medicalmarijuana.org/, https://www.hoodincubator.org/)
  4. Donate to organizations working end cannabis prohibition. One of the most important things we can do for racial justice within our movement is to remove cannabis as a factor in police interactions. Organizations like the Marijuana Policy Project, Students For Sensible Drug Policy, and the National Cannabis Industry Association are great choices. And for the people who end up in prison for cannabis who are overwhelmingly black, organizations like the Last Prisoner Project work to get them out. (https://www.mpp.org/, https://ssdp.org/, https://thecannabisindustry.org/, https://www.lastprisonerproject.org/)
  5. Become more aware of bias, discrimination, and racism and speak up when you can. Many people aren’t even aware of the ways they might be causing harm. We must bring these issues to the forefront if we ever hope to resolve them. A great book that is relevant to race and the cannabis issue is The New Jim Crow by Michele Alexander. Some years ago, Arcview gave a copy of that to all of our investors courtesy of the Drug Policy Alliance. (https://newjimcrow.com/)
Together, we can work to employ business practices that provide people of color access to the resources they need to participate in the legal cannabis industry and end the racist policy of cannabis prohibition.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said in this quote that inspired Arcview’s name, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” May it be so.