MJBizMagazine September 2021 - 12

HempNotebook | Kristen Nichols
In The Zone
L
et me tell you where I buy marijuana:
It's a very friendly retailer behind an
adult bookstore and just down from
a pawn shop on a busy street in one of
Denver's industrial areas.
Now let me tell you where I get CBD
products: I like this adorable boutique
in a tree-lined shopping district, near
a high-end wine retailer and a bakery.
Other times, I visit a spa that has a
fabulous selection of CBD topicals.
I've been thinking about these three
very different shops recently, as we dive
into the state of cannabis retail for this
issue of MJBizMagazine. I'm hoping that
as the full cannabis industry expands,
efforts to make the sector inclusive and
diverse include some deep thinking not
just about who is participating in the
space, but where.
Zone Defense
I'm not the first to notice that marijuana
retail suffers from an image problem.
Even as state after state legalizes
marijuana-and jurisdictions within
those states open opportunities to
sell MJ products in brick-and-mortar
stores-the industry suffers from
ongoing perceptions that cannabis
smells bad and attracts crime.
It's a misconception that leads one
community after another to relegate
marijuana retail locations to low-value
industrial zones and away from prime
real estate and single-family homes.
The same politicians who denounce
Can hemp's retail legacy help correct mistakes on the high-THC side of cannabis?
prohibition and the war on drugs
ensure they won't see marijuana
being sold in their shopping malls and
neighborhoods.
As a result, marijuana retailers are
concentrated in depressed areas, often
near rental housing stock and areas
more populated by people of color. And
then? Public officials turn around and
accuse marijuana retailers of targeting
the poor and racial minorities.
Hemp Stands Out
In this respect, hemp has fared better.
Though certainly not immune to
racist and classist zoning policies,
hemp retailers haven't found their
products derided as public threats
and nuisances.
Research on hemp retail and zoning
disparities isn't as robust as it is for
marijuana zoning-itself an area in
need of study. But my observations in
Denver aren't unique.
Part of the reason is that hemp
products are more diverse, meaning
that goods beyond flower are
commonly sold in conventional retail
stores. Marijuana, by definition, is
grown for enhanced cannabinoid
content. So, no one sells marijuana
fiber or grain to the public.
Still, the CBD boom didn't translate
into anti-hemp zoning. Hemp can smell
just as skunky as marijuana, yet hemp
retailers somehow escape that " stinky
hippie " bias.
Why are pot shops in crummy neighborhoods,
while luxury retailers carry CBD topicals?
It's all perception-colored, of course, by the
historical weight of racist stereotypes. "
12 MJBizMagazine | September 2021
Lessons From Hemp
It's worth considering hemp's retail
footprint as the world reevaluates
cannabis policy more broadly. Why are
pot shops in crummy neighborhoods,
while luxury retailers carry CBD
topicals? It's all perception-colored,
of course, by the historical weight of
racist stereotypes.
I hope hemp retailers take seriously
the challenges they'll face if and when
they decide to add high-THC items to
their shelves.
Our marijuana counterparts are so
thrilled to be operating legally that
entrepreneurs often don't blink at
zoning restrictions that keep them
hidden from the sight of middle-aged
white women like me.
I hope hemp retailers aren't
as acquiescent. Make a big stink
(figuratively!) and demand that
equitable retail opportunities are key to
ending the war on drugs.
Kristen Nichols is editor of
Hemp Industry Daily. She can
be reached at kristen.nichols@
hempindustrydaily.com.

MJBizMagazine September 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MJBizMagazine September 2021

MJBizMagazine September 2021 - 1
MJBizMagazine September 2021 - 2
MJBizMagazine September 2021 - 3
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