Regina Smith, Executive Director, Harlem Business Alliance Speaks Out on Cannabis & Economic Equity

By: Harlem Business Alliance
Regina Smith, Executive Director, Harlem Business Alliance
Regina Smith, Executive Director, Harlem Business Alliance
NEW YORK - April 9, 2019 - PRLog -- According to the Associated Press, the market for legal marijuana is massive and exploding in a big way. Legal marijuana sales hit $10.4 billion in North America in 2018. The Harlem community is getting prepared to take advantage of the cannabis revolution. "Our organization, the Harlem Business Alliance, ( has hosted a Green Revolution: Cannabis and Entrepreneurship summit and monthly meetups to inspire and educate Harlem entrepreneurs about the cannabis business. HBA is hoping to push the needle away from the devastating drug policies and toward generational wealth-building with this budding industry. The economic opportunity is as huge as it is vital to the Harlem community, by creating new black-owned businesses and remedying decades of systematic & disparate oppression from the war on drugs," says, Regina Smith, Executive Director.

Regina Smith has been featured in the Philadelphia Tribune, Amsterdam News, The Network Journal, Sirius XM, ABC-Here and Now, and has written a few Op-Ed articles on the legalization of marijuana as a Black empowerment tool for  "As an older Black woman who grew up in Harlem and still lives and works in Harlem I am deeply disturbed by the federal, state and city policies that have negatively impacted my community over the last 50 years," says Smith. Now medicinal and recreational cannabis present incredible opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs, businesswomen and men to create, sustain and grow more Black businesses. The HBA plans to do its part by connecting people and resources and incubating entrepreneurs to excel in this industry. The challenge, however, is greater than ever.

Black-owned businesses in NY are in a state of crisis, particularly independent Black-owned brick and mortar businesses. Harlem and other Black communities are being gentrified making it increasingly difficult to rent commercial space or purchase property, a key wealth-building vehicle. Community-based organizations that are culturally sensitive and competent are undervalued and not adequately supported by the government or foundations.

Smith says, "Cannabis is the hot buzzword, but it's more than just a trending topic. It has been used as a tool to incarcerate and disenfranchise our community. Now as popular opinion shifts, it (cannabis) has the power to be economically empowering. We've read about and viewed cable shows about non-Black people who are making millions of dollars selling marijuana in other states while Black men in NY are still being arrested simply for possession. We believe the legalization of marijuana in New York is months away. Marijuana is the fastest-growing job category and there's 445% job growth in job listings in the category year over year. More importantly, this is an incredible opportunity to create businesses and jobs for our own people. By taking the lead on Black Economic Equity, in a community that has suffered tremendous harm from the "War on Drugs" and "School to Prison" pipeline, we can push for equity and reparative justice while facilitating the development of businesses that benefit Black people."

Social Media:

Facebook: Harlem Business Alliance

Twitter: @HBANY

Instagram: @HarlemBizAlliance

About the Harlem Business Alliance:

The Harlem Business Alliance (HBA), was founded in 1980 by a group of prominent Harlem business leaders who recognized the void that had resulted from years of disinvestment and abandonment in Harlem and the critical need to mobilize the existing businesses and organizations to come together as a collective voice. Incorporated in 1990 as a class 402 501(c)(3) corporation, HBA has worked diligently to establish Harlem as an economically self-sustaining community. For more information, visit

Karen Taylor Bass
Source:Harlem Business Alliance
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