Jay-Z’s $10M push for POC legalized pot businesses

Plus, how Biden’s storm of exec orders will impact your money

Jan 28, 2021 | Current events | Business
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When it comes to leveling the cannabis playing field…

Jay-Z believes he’s got the blueprint, or at least part of it. Rapper/entrepreneur Shawn Carter and Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez are launching a $10 million fund that will invest in POC-owned cannabis startups. The fund’s underlying purpose: to address inequities that have hounded Black and brown communities on both sides of the legalization divide — that is, disproportionate punishment during prohibition followed by underrepresentation during the boom years that are here now.

In the US, Black people are 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for pot possession than white people despite similar rates of usage. Meanwhile in states where marijuana is legal, Black representation amounts to only 4.3% in cannabis business ownership. The big barrier being money, of course — with license applicants needing at least $250,000 in liquid assets to even be considered in Nevada, for example. National banks can’t offer loans as long as cannabis is banned federally, but that could change with the new administration and narrow Dem majority.

Instacart tosses almost 2k jobs

San Francisco-based Instacart is laying off just shy of 1,900 in-store shoppers, including all 10 of its unionized workers, to focus on new models. In locations where shoppers were let go, stores will begin using their own staff to fulfill orders, and Instacart contractors to deliver them. Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents the handful of organized former Instacart-ers, issued a biting statement in response to the delivery giant's actions.

This decision comes on the heels of a successful 2020 campaign to overturn a California labor law pointed at extending full-time benefits to independent contractors. Instacart, along with Postmates, DoorDash, Uber, and others forked over $200 million to ensure the campaign’s success.

What Biden’s executive orders mean for your wallet

President Biden signed a slew of executive orders during his first week in office, focused on the economy, environment, and federal Covid-19 response. The administration is already working to increase protections for American workers by restoring collective bargaining rights, creating a path toward raising the federal minimum wage to $15, setting his “Buy American” campaign pledge into motion to strengthen American manufacturing, and guaranteeing unemployment insurance for workers who refuse to work due to Covid-19. He’s also extending a few protections that were already in place, like the freeze on federal student loan payments (extended through September 30th) and the freeze on federal debt for 2 million veterans.

Plus, he’s expanding food assistance programs and establishing benefit delivery teams to make sure future stimulus checks get into the right hands.

Who’s not saying return to sender?

Amazon, Walmart, and Target. Instead of emailing customers return labels, major retailers are refunding customers and telling them to keep their unwanted orders. The shift comes as retailers react to the online shopping surge driven by Covid-19. Now it’s up to AI to decide if it’s worth it for companies to process a return. Because just like there’s no such thing as a free lunch, there’s no such thing as a free return, either. Those costs can run between $10 and $20 per item plus freight transport, and they’re becoming harder to swallow. In 2020, the number of online returns spiked 70% over 2019, and last season’s holiday returns could reach as high as $70.5 billion of returned product. But before you get any ideas, don’t think bluffing about a return will get you free stuff. These companies use sophisticated algorithms to sniff out scammers.