As the Legal Weed Industry Flourishes, Latinos Bear the Brunt of Its Growing Pains

Lead Photo: Paola Olivares
Paola Olivares
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This week, we’ve been bringing you stories on the many ways cannabis culture and policy intersect with Latino communities as part of Weed Week, our partnership with Latino USA. We’ve brought you a glossary of weed slang to help you get by across Latin America, talked to artists about how ganja informs their creative process, talked to a Puerto Rican legislator pushing a bill to decriminalize marijuana in Puerto Rico, and provided a pot-centric Netflix list. Now, to cap off the week, Latino USA has released their latest episode, titled “Smoked Out.”

In the hour-long podcast, María Hinojosa and co. explore the changing state of marijuana laws, and how Latinos and other people of color are still disproportionately busted on weed-related charges.

Latino USA gathered stories from Colorado, New York, and other parts of the United States, like a nameless town in Northern California, where a 70-year-old man named Juan makes money the only way he can: by growing weed. After a career spent as a logger and then an apple picker, his body gave out. “Thanks to these plants, I’m able to buy medicine,” he said. “If we were just living off my retirement money, it wouldn’t be enough.” And he knows many other Mexican-American families that are also in the weed business.

The rest of the episode looks into the wealthy private investors trying to get in on the profitable industry, why the legal marijuana industry is mostly white, and the racialized history of marijuana. Check out the whole episode below and then read up on more Weed Week content here.