A Black entrepreneur in Maryland is working to diversify the cannabis industry in Maryland.

Kevin Ford is the CEO of Uplift Maryland – a new platform strives to increase diversity and inclusion within the emerging medical cannabis industry and “ensuring our community has an opportunity to participate in the economy of the future.”

Ford told Black Enterprise that he was inspired after exploring medical markets in other legalized states and his own experience in using medical marijuana.

“Being a medical patient myself, I saw a void in the market for a clear source of information,” he said. “I realized how complicated it could be to navigate the registration and certification process. With countless stigmas surrounding cannabis, I wanted to create a community where people are supplied with education, tools, and economic resources to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams in this very profitable industry.”

Ford added that he also wanted to transform the narrative of marijuana when it comes to the legal system. 

According to ACLU data, marijuana arrests account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States. Of the more than 8 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simply having marijuana.

Nationwide, the arrest data revealed one consistent trend: significant racial bias. Despite roughly equal usage rates, Blacks are 3.73x more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.

“I also wanted to redefine a commodity that is still deemed illegal and incarcerates so many Black men and turn it into a positive for our community by providing [an] education of opportunity, especially to those who have been marginalized by oppressive and unjust drug policies,” Ford added.

Uplift Maryland will serve as a one-stop-shop for Medical Cannabis information for aspiring entrepreneurs, patients, caregivers, and providers.