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!


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!

Pressure The Politicians

2020-08-03T13:27:08+00:00By RT|Color of Cannabis, recents|

Politicians are public servants. Right? When it comes to the business of the plant which segment of the public are they serving? Name 2 publically traded Black owned or Latino owned cannabis companies. I’m still waiting. The movement for people of color to level up- must start with pressuring local and state politicians to recognize our value, worth and contribution to the taxes received from cannabis sales. Local and state budgets get an infusion of cash that we help generate, but the current laws on the books put us at a disadvantage. It’s time to dramatically change the laws before it’s too late. Take notice of a recent survey by YouGov- which stated that most people in states where cannabis is legal believe the laws have been a success. True. A success for White Americans, Russians and foreigners who control the business. There are several organizations and companies including MJBIZDAILY who recognize the need to change the barriers to minority entry into the business. We applaud them.

Some companies also recognize the social and business climate is changing and the industry must change with it. The business as usual model is over! Whatever the product, service or solution- the cultural mandate now is either businesses pivot their messaging and model to inclusion or pay the price for failing to do so! New legislation is the real call for change. The Color of Cannabis is calling on the adoption of a new piece of state legislation. The Cannabis Cares- Inclusion, Diversity & Licensing Act, 2021. The bill is still being drafted, but here are some of the basics that I believe everyone can embrace.

  • Pardon all those convicted for marijuana convictions whether it’s for possession or distribution regardless of the weight. Nobody should be in jail for something that’s now legal. We applaud Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak for taking action in this area.
  • Expunge and or seal all marijuana convictions. The pardons in most states do not remove the convictions based on current legislation. We want to eliminate the criminal marijuana record. Don’t simply pardon the person, but leave the conviction on their record and expect them to get a job at any of the top 25 cannabis companies.
  • Ban the rejection of applicants who test positive for marijuana with employers in a state where cannabis is legal. You can’t make the drug legal and then reject applicants who test positive for it in their system. Stop playing games.
  • All existing cannabis companies are required by law to maintain staffing levels that are 25% Black American and at least 10% people of color in order to maintain legal compliance to operate! This is not a sensitive issue. If your company is only a total of 35% minorities– it’s still 65% White. What’s the complaint now? The legislation refers to both publically and privately owned companies. Half of those minority positions must be in Sr. level positions.
  • All new cannabis state licenses must be awarded to a minimum of 25% Black applicants. That covers the entire supply chain not just dispensaries. 10% awarded to other people of color. That means White Americans can still get the other 65% of the licenses. So what’s the problem if you embrace inclusion and diversity?

The Cannabis Cares- Inclusion, Diversity & Licensing Act, 2021 is a comprehensive political tool to address the racial pneumonia that’s affecting the cannabis industry. If 65% White dominance in the business is unfair because of the 35% legal minority mandates- that speaks volumes of the people in power and the people in ownership. Let’s work together to make the business healthy and diverse. Is there really something wrong with having people of color employed in your organization? The Color of Cannabis- embraces the plant and all the shades of the people who enjoy it. Get on board and be a change agent. Contact your state representatives and get their pledge for the new legislation. Pressure the politicians to put the bill up for vote. If your local or state elected official won’t support inclusion and diversity in the cannabis sector, protest and vote them out of office.

Journey Built on Unity

2020-08-03T13:27:02+00:00By RT|Color of Cannabis, recents|

The road ahead is an exciting journey we can all embark on together.  The Color of Cannabis is a vehicle that I hope all connoisseurs of cannabis can ride with.  Share the stories, share your comments and share the link.  Our goal is to practice what we preach, and make this a platform built on inclusion.  You can’t call for inclusion, but practice exclusion and isolation. I am encouraged by the outpouring of support from my White brothers and sisters, and all the people of color who recognize the need for a strategic and organized effort to gain meaningful access to the industry.  This requires unity.  No division and no separation.  The recent pledge by some cannabis companies to take definitive action to improve diversity is a start. Thumbs up- to Cresco Labs for appointing Michele Roberts to the board of directors.

It’s our hope that other Multi-state operators will examine their staffs and boards and decide to hire Black Americans and other people of color.  Focus on some mid and senior level positions too.  Equally important, I’m calling on my sisters to raise the flag for Black men.  We’re in the movement with you.  We’re in the fight for equality on the front line with you.  Let’s be united in the pursuit of jobs and licenses with you!  If you have the opportunity to own a business or have hiring authority or influence, use it to uplift a Black man.  This journey ahead has several destinations along the roadmap.  Each filled with potential partners- allies- supporters and soldiers. There are many key people at each exit that are willing to unite to push the cause forward.  Thumbs up- to Evan Nison, Founder & CEO at NisonCo.  Thumbs up- to Lisa Buffo, Founder & CEO at Cannabis Marketing Association.  It was great to join both of you for your networking mixer in Vegas.

There are a few other notable partners who are committed to change in this industry.  I will highlight them in future post.  One takeaway from the recent MJBIZCON conference in Las Vegas was the recognition that our sector must open the door of opportunity to everyone. That’s why it was so refreshing to read the recent statement issued last month by MJBizDaily-  “At MJBizDaily we believe in equal opportunity, equal treatment and equal justice.  We stand in solidarity with those fighting against those affected by the scourge of systemic racism and social injustice.  While the history and evolution of cannabis serves as a stark example of the inequality that has been allowed to fester for far too long, our industry can be the perfect example of uniting people of every color and race to come together and create something truly amazing”.  Thumbs up- to Chris Walsh, CEO and Cassandra Farrington, Founder for being agents for change!  It takes a unified approach to create change.  Be a change agent on this journey, and united in our approach to making cannabis a model for all industries.


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