Three years ago, Jesce Horton, a former engineer in his early 30s, quit his corporate job to set up his own small, family-owned cannabis cultivation business in Portland, Oregon.
Horton is part of a nascent industry that netted $6.7bn last year and is projected to reach $50bn by 2026. And as one of the few black business owners in an industry whose legality varies by location, he stands out.
“I guess how I dress is hip-hop hipster. I have my Jordans, but I also have my beard and a Portland hat,” Horton says with a chuckle when asked to describe himself.
Horton’s parents were at first lukewarm about his plan to sell a substance associated with decades of systematic imprisonment that have devastated communities of color. But the young entrepreneur sees the partial legalization of cannabis as an opportunity not just for business, but to acknowledge past wrongdoing and seek economic justice.
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