Sharpton will be the keynote speaker at the Cannabis World Congress Business Exposition in New York on Friday. The event marks the first time he will publicly push for the decriminalization of marijuana use and call for the inclusion of people of color within the industry.
“Just because I don’t use marijuana as a Minister, does not mean I have the right to impose my moral values on others,” Sharpton said in statement sent to HuffPost. “However, I will challenge the cannabis industry and its distributors in states where it is legal to support civil rights movements and ensure that we are not disproportionately excluded from business opportunities.”
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As The Huff Post reports, the event marks the fourth annual year for cannabis expo, which is the leading trade show and conference for the legalized cannabis, medical marijuana and industrial hemp industries. The expo includes a series of speakers and exhibits that highlight ways to open, invest in and grow businesses focused around marijuana.
Sharpton aims to help identify ways people of color can become more involved in the industry where it operates legally, which is expected to surpass $21 billion in 2020.
“Decriminalization and diversity are hot buttons for this industry, and there is a low percentage of canna-businesses owned by people of color,” said Scott Giannotti, Managing Director, CWCB Expo Events, in an email. “To have one of the nation’s most prominent voices speak on this topic at CWCBExpo is an extreme honor. This is a turning point for the industry and we are proud to have Rev. Sharpton inspire real action forward.”
In related news, as early as January 2018, California will become the latest – and by far the biggest – state to allow the sale of legal adult-use marijuana.