Color of Cannabis


2020-11-23T19:09:28+00:00By RT|Color of Cannabis, recents|

The Rap game is making significant moves into the cannabis sector as the industry embraces calls for inclusion, diversity and access to the supply chain. Several celebrity rappers are now carving out their stake in the business, but at what expense to the consumer and other minorities seeking to gain entry into a lucrative and growing vertical.  The current business model appears to rely on celebrity rappers using their fame and licensing their name to secure brand deals.  That is not a cannabis company owned by a person of color.  Real inclusion should not come at the exclusion of ordinary entrepreneurs who seek to ply their skills, talent and experience into the cannabis sector. A handful of well financed entrepreneurs and those who secure social equity licenses are afforded an opportunity, but the playing field is is not level.

One Rap star after another is trying to sell their goods to a built in set of adoring fans. Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, The Game, Snoop, Cameron, Coolio, Kurupt, Wiz Khalifa, Method Man, Drake and now Jay Z. Damn!  At this rate there won’t be any opportunities left for someone who isn’t rich and famous.  I believe the public isn’t buying what their selling. This is pot, weed, marijuana or plain ole fashion reefer. It’s not sneakers, soda, music streams, lingerie or wine & spirits.  Product matters in the cannabis game. That’s all that matters. The end user could care less about the Rap impresario’s name on the bag or jar!  Celebrity weed.  That’s plain corny & whack.  Let’s not stifle the cannabis industry with an invasion of celebrity rappers. It’s about Real Product- Real People- Real Talk.  We set out to capture the consciousness of the cannabis culture with outstanding product at a fair price.  We also crafted a brand message built on delivering a product that reflects meaningful and measurable participation in cannabis for people of color!  Not some over hyped Rap curated fad or gimmick.  The streets and the hood will see through this at the register.

Much of the cannabis consumer base is made up of minorities and women. College age use of marijuana is at a 30 year high.  These demographics are a lot more savvy about their cannabis purchases than the industry gives them credit for.  A celebrity rapper dropping a line of pre-rolls is not the same as dropping a hot new song on Billboard.  The gatekeepers should also re-examine how their corporate structure, values, image and mission statement aligns with this group.  Don’t penalize would be minority entrepreneurs who lack the skills on the mic, but make up for it with real business acumen and formal education.  I don’t Rap.  But my parents did spend thousands of dollars for me to attend Howard University.  Jobs, ownership or equity in cannabis should not be reserved for this Rap clique!  The American success story is built on the little guy or gal winning at the end of the day.  It provides hope and optimism that anyone with drive, determination, discipline and hustle can succeed too.

I got love and respect for all of the rappers I mentioned.  They are my peers and embody my generation.  I’ve supported their various music and business interest.  However, when it comes to weed I’m drawing the line, and so should the consumer.  Competition is healthy, but don’t stack the deck by providing all the financial resources, support and opportunity for the privileged few.  Homie Cannabis is poised to win in spite of because we aligned ourselves with the people. In cannabis, the streets decide what’s hot and what’s not.  Celebrity Rappers selling reefer- is just plain whack!

Seat At The Cannabis Table

2020-07-24T06:32:58+00:00By RT|Color of Cannabis|

When the hit song playing “Legalized Cannabis” stopped, were people of color sitting at the table or standing wondering what the hell happened?  As more states continue to pass legislation for medicinal and recreational use, it’s obvious the song and game being played is not designated for a minority playlist.  The audacity of a multi-billion dollar burgeoning industry to exclude the very people who’ve paid the price for the war on drugs. It’s time for the cannabis sector to Color Up!  It’s time for people of color, particularly Black Americans to have our seat at the table.  Black people make up less than 5% percent of the industry supply chain.  Don’t try to fool us either with a few rappers or athletes who licensed their names and likeness to a few strains of pre-rolls either.  That’s not a Black owned cannabis company.  Get this- America woke up and made the dope game legal, and decided that Black people can’t participate in a meaningful, tangible and measurable way.  Seriously!  From cultivation to processing to third party testing to wholesale distribution and retail, we are on the outside looking in.  There is a systematic pattern of exclusion at every level.


We are loyal consumers.  Is that the designated standing place for Black and Brown people? We’re good enough to spend our money on the product, but not good enough to work at cannabis companies or have ownership in a significant capacity.  Ask yourself, does the top 20 cannabis companies in America support our culture or respect our economic contribution to their bottom line?  There will always be token representation in a wide variety of industry sectors, but this is one marketplace we know all too well.  This is one sector we should dominate in!  Black and Brown people have excelled at every stage of the illegal cannabis trade. We have a master’s degree and in some cases a Phd. in the business of pot.  However, the politicians have created a system that doesn’t cultivate minority licensing, and the companies have been complicit in their hiring practices.  The message is clear- use the product for health and wellness, or simply to get high, but don’t bother to apply!  The few movers and shakers we do have in high ranking positions seem to be Black women.  Did the cannabis sector forget that Black Men exist too? Scan the company websites and review dozens of articles and you will be hard pressed to find many Black men. I am excited and respect the few Black Women who’ve gained entry into the business, but there are several competent and capable Brothers who’ve been totally disregarded by the industry gatekeepers.


The entire industry needs an overhaul from state licensing to compliance.  The current business model is unacceptable.  We need to exit the illegal Black Market and enter the legal market.  Start protesting for change in one of the biggest growth industries to emerge since alcohol and prohibition.  We have demonstrated that we have the tools to be successful in this business.  But we will continue to flounder unless state cannabis laws are changed to require minority hiring, and ownership is tied to compliance!  Inclusion and diversity should not be novel ideas forced on the companies, but something they proactively embrace.  People of color deserve a seat at the table to share in the economic rewards of the plant.  Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Arabs, Native Americans and all the people who support diversity need to speak up!  We can do more than take a puff and pass it. We can and should be allowed to contribute monetarily from seed to sale.  The Color of Cannabis is advocating for change and advocating for the culture.  Be a change agent and embrace minority ownership, jobs and vendors.  The Color of Cannabis is green, but it comes in many so many wonderful shades.





The Alphabet Dilemma

2020-08-04T16:42:49+00:00By RT|Color of Cannabis|

FBI, DEA, SEC and the DOJ are just some of the federal agencies taking more than a hard look at the cannabis industry.  They’re listening, investigating, suing and charging a host of industry players and public officials.  If you only consume marijuana or CBD rather than participate in the business, the corruption may have escaped you.  Get this Memo- the cannabis sector is not for the faint of heart.  It is not the neighborhood Boys & Girls Club.  You must be built to participate in it.  Battle tested and with strong mental fortitude.  With billions of dollars at stake the sector is ripe for corruption. Several west coast companies have faced the wrath of the Department of Justice.  More than 200 RICO charges (Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations) have been filed since 2019 alone.  RICO is a vital tool to dismantle the mafia.  The FBI has even launched a series of investigations and stings to identify reported organized crime ties to both public and privately owned cannabis companies.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr directed the Department of Justice to re-examine at least a dozen cannabis mergers and acquisitions for possible anti-trust violations among other charges. The Securities and Exchange Commission has sued several cannabis companies for alleged stock fraud, pump and dump and even a ponzi scheme.  The SEC has recently charged a California company with bilking investors out of $25 million dollars for a marijuana farm and extraction facility.  IRS audits are as common as a pre-roll or CBD vape pen.  While multiple states have engaged in protracted litigation to recoup delinquent taxes.  The cannabis sector is a sea of lawsuit after lawsuit. The sheer number of high-profile litigation between investors, staffers, partners and states is eye opening. The weed business is real on the streets. However, It’s also real in the offices too.  Like the days of alcohol and Al Capone- pot promises profits, but delivers its share of bribery, extortion and kickbacks!

A growing list of elected officials from Florida to Massachusetts to Michigan and California have been charged in public corruption cases involving bribery in exchange for licenses or other political favors.  Nevada’s former cannabis licensing director was removed from his post after allegations of improper conduct surfaced.  Now another disturbing scheme has taken root. Paying for shelf space.  That’s right. Some cannabis companies are paying dispensaries thousands of dollars each month to secure space for their products.  Remember when the FBI investigated record companies for paying radio stations to play their artist? Ole fashion payola is back!  The pay to play arrangement is geared to promote the brands and products from major companies at the expense of small and minority firms. You could have a great product and terrific marketing but can’t get it on the shelf without paying up.

The practice is called slotting fees or so-called merchandising fees, but I call it payola- plain and simple. Another form of bribery to get in the door.  People of color already have a hard-enough time getting in the industry. Now we have to come up with additional money each month just to get on the shelf.  That’s plain shady!  It also manipulates the consumer by directing them to certain brands vs an organic shopping experience.  Some dispensaries are getting paid on the front end for shelf space, and on the back end for driving sales to a particular brand.  Another tool to keep small companies and minority vendors from gaining entry.

The illegal Black market has its share of pitfalls, but the legal cannabis market can be downright sketchy too.  If we want to get our foot in the industry, it’s important to make sure we are built to meet the hustle head-on.  The weak need not apply!





2020-08-03T14:11:19+00:00By RT|Color of Cannabis, recents|

People of color can get a foothold in the cannabis business if we pool our financially resources together and engage in real partnerships.  Too many of us want to be solo superstars, celebrity CEO’s and social media moguls.  But we need each other to break down the systemic barriers in place.  If we could stop being so worried about the next Brother or Sister getting ahead of us, and start networking to share ideas, strategy and execution then maybe we could secure the bag!  There are several states with so called social equity programs aimed at creating cannabis opportunities for minority participation, but the results range from woefully inadequate to mediocre at best.  California has basically had to scrap their social equity program and start over. In Los Angeles, the social equity initiatives are in the midst of a major overhaul.  Good luck Cat Parker.  Despite social equity and social justice programs providing low interest loans, job training and outreach there’s no substitute for cold hard cash.  What’s the purpose of obtaining a license if you don’t have enough operating capital to start, maintain and sustain the business?


The current social, racial and economic movement underway is a perfect time for Blacks in the wealth sector to invest in their people and invest in this industry.  If you are a Black multi-millionaire or billionaire step up with your wallet.  You likely made a significant portion of your earnings on the backs of Black folk.  Now is the time to spend some of that money on your  people.  There are very few opportunities for loans and other traditional capital instruments to access because marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug at the federal level.  So I’m calling on some of these Ebony, Essence, BET and ESPN millionaires to pool their paper together and invest in us.  Recent reports indicate cannabis sales in the U.S. are projected to exceed $15 billion dollars in 2020. Are you really going to sit on your financial nest egg, and allow Black and Brown people to miss out on the green rush? J. Prince, an entrepreneur who I truly respect said it best in his book, (quote) “I was taught that you must believe in something bigger than yourself to get something bigger than yourself”.


We must stop waiting for the opportunity to participate in the cannabis sector, and start revenue sharing to secure our buy in.  People of color need to recognize, realize and understand the need to move beyond a consumer only model.  We are smart enough and rich enough as a group to bankroll our own cannabis footprint.  We know our culture, and we know are product preferences better than anyone else.  It takes economic equity and collaboration from within to stake our claim in this business.  Corporate America decided to make the pot game legal.  We can not be left standing on the sidelines watching with a Covid-19 mask on.  Support the cause.  Support the movement.  Support the culture.  Support each other.  Step up together and secure the bag.  There’s real money on the table. $$


Vegas- The Green Rush

2020-08-03T14:11:43+00:00By RT|Color of Cannabis, recents|

It’s hot in Las Vegas.  But the marijuana market is even hotter.  Sure the recent Covid-19 crisis resulted in delivery and curbside pickup only.  However, we’re back to full service and cannabis sales are proving to be pandemic proof economically.  Simmering beneath the radar and during the shelter in place order was our collective call to action to get in the game.  I’m answering the call with Boss thoughts.  I told Florida attorney and celebrated Pot Daddy, John Morgan, that a brand by the people- of the people- and for “my people” was coming.  Mr. Morgan, it’s on the way! The niche for People of Color is grossly under represented in Las Vegas cannabis circles and beyond.  I’m stepping in to fill the void.  It’s unacceptable that a world class destination only has 2 Black owned dispensaries.  Frank Hawkins at Nevada Wellness Center and Kema Ogden at Top Notch Dispensary. Both deserve our full support! Gov. Sisolak and Tyler Klimas, new Executive Director of the Cannabis Compliance Board are advocates for increased minority participation in the sector.  We want to participate and partner in big way.


It starts with capital and ends with support.  Our Native American brothers at Nuwu Dispensary proved it can be done.  Our Latino sister Priscilla Vilchis is making her mark too.  Now it’s time for us to do it.  Black dollars will help make the push to serve our niche a reality.  Sure it would be nice if Jason Adler, Alex Wang and Daniel Finkelstein at Gotham Green Partners gave us millions like they did they boys at Med Men.  But we’re not waiting on a handout.  I’m convinced we’re capable of opening the door of opportunity and walking through it together.    Las Vegas is fertile ground for the launch of a premium brand owned by a Black man.  Memo to all- It’s coming soon!  I’m doing it not for me, but for people of color and all the people who support us and the culture.  Nevada has been a leader in eliminating some of the heavy handed regulations, high taxes and compliance issues seen in other states like California.  The data proves just how ripe the Nevada market is for sales too.  The green rush has exceeded projected cannabis sales each year since the state began full adult use with nearly $700 million in sales in 2019.  If we’re going to get in the cannabis game location matters.


Solid cultivation is here, and industry pros like Paris Balaouras and Armen Yemenidjian call Las Vegas home.  Major wholesalers, distributors, packaging, third party testing and 24-hour retail dispensaries.  We’re also home to the most expansive and comprehensive cannabis trade show in the nation MJBIZCON.  Las Vegas may be built on gambling, but pot is an important part of the new business model.  However, that model can not continue as business as usual.  Our people need to participate in the green rush. It’s time for all the dispensaries to set aside some shelf space, and do business with minority vendors.  Our people, our products and our dollars deserve to be reflected in the brands you carry. Money is green and so it cannabis.  The Color of Cannabis comes in so many beautiful shades. Let’s celebrate it and partner to make the industry a model for others to emulate.  Shout out to Vegas Cannabis magazine. Keep printing and press forward!

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