by Kevin Michael Briscoe
Mario B. Williams has never been one to shy away from a fight. As head of NDH Law, the Atlanta-based attorney has worked on behalf of jail inmates, immigrants, the mentally disabled and minorities who have won settlements against police agencies,.
Now, tapping his entrepreneurial instincts, Williams will soon open 9 Leaves, an upscale medical marijuana and CBDretail store in Atlanta. In doing so, he and his partners are up against a discriminatory financial system, the politics of legalizing marijuana and scant minority representation and ownership in that business.
“The sad and unfortunate reality for African Americans is that black-owned businesses are still two to three times more likely to be rejected for a loan than white business owners,” Williams said. “I think, in particular, this form of discrimination, along with the stigma that still follows the cannabis and smoking industry, makes entrepreneurial ownership within the industry particularly difficult for people of color who simply cannot afford to put up a substantial portion of their own money.”
Still, the legal marijuana industry represents a major opportunity for black entrepreneurs that “have the upfront money, understand the licensing requirements and can navigate the political and legal landscape,” Williams said.
By many accounts, the use of…