Jay-Z creates $10M fund to seed minority-owned cannabis startups

Jay-Z creates $10M fund to seed minority-owned cannabis startups
Jay-Z attends the Pre-GRAMMY Gala and GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Sean "Diddy" Combs on January 25, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. The entertainment titan and serial entrepreneur launched a $10 million investment venture Jan. 15, 2021, aimed at leveling the playing field for minority-owned marijuana startups. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy) (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording A)

Entertainment titan and serial entrepreneur Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter launched a new investment venture Jan. 15 aimed at leveling the playing field for minority-owned marijuana startups.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the rap icon and business mogul lamented the disconnect between the multibillion-dollar legalized pot industry and the people of color disproportionately punished for its illicit history.

“We were the ones most negatively affected by the war on drugs, and America has turned around and created a business from it that’s worth billions,” Carter told the Journal.

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According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Black people were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in the U.S. in 2018, despite statistics indicating that “whites have higher lifetime rates of pot usage,” the Journal reported, noting a 2017 National Institutes of Health study also determined that Black people were incarcerated at rates between five and seven times higher than those for whites convicted of similar drug-related offenses.

In turn, Carter established the $10 million Social Equity Ventures Fund in partnership with his own cannabis startup, The Parent Company, to bolster Black participation in the industry by providing up to $1 million in seed money for each venture it backs, Black Enterprise reported.

The Parent Company, which launched cannabis brand MONOGRAM in October, is a joint venture between Carter and his full-service entertainment company, Roc Nation, the magazine reported.

According to an estimate by New York investment bank Cowen & Co., U.S. cannabis ventures now represent a $20 billion legal business only 25 years after California first legalized medical marijuana, and that figure could more than triple to $70 billion by 2030, the Journal reported.

To date, 35 U.S. states have legalized marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational use.

Meanwhile, Carter also intends to leverage the Social Equity Ventures Fund to organize “diversity initiatives” within the legalized cannabis industry, such as job fairs and training workshops, Black Enterprise reported, noting celebrities such as Rihanna, DJ Khaled and Meek Mill are attached to the project.

“I wanted to do something in a real, concrete way, where I do my part,” Carter told the Journal.