Black-Owned Cannabis Businesses You Can Support Right Now
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The movement to show support for Black Lives Matter has encompassed the nation. Protests have erupted calling for systematic change, police have responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, stores have been ransacked, including some in the cannabis industry.
We help, in part, beginning in the smallest way—where our money goes.
Not every consumer knows where they spend precious dollars, or how to best contribute their money to causes and people they want to support. As we become more conscious consumers, Green Entrepreneur is highlighting small businesses and Black-owned, equity, indigenous, and people of color-owned businesses.
In cannabis, those businesses are few-and-far-between. Equity entrepreneurs work tirelessly to receive licenses in their respective markets. Against all odds, sometimes with massive inequities in funding and access to the type of revenue stream that cannabis industry businesses need to get off the ground. They deserve patronage now.
Here are 20 Black-owned cannabis businesses that you can support.
Pure Oasis in Boston, Massachusetts, has been through it in 2020. This is Massachusett's first dispensary as well as the first black-owned dispensary in the state. Its founders Kobie Evans and Kevin Hart spoke with Hassan Minaj in his recent episode of Patriot Act, a biting critique of the cannabis industry and its insufficient efforts in addressing social equity disparities. Unfortunately, The Boston Globe first reported Pure Oasis was looted on the same night as protests in the state on May 30. “We had a big outpouring support from the community this morning,” Evans told The Boston Globe. “We all know this wasn’t coming from the community. This was people going through the city and taking advantage of the situation.”
The first Black-owned and female-owned cannabis dispensary in the country, opened in Denver, Colorado, in 2014, Simply Pure is humble but mighty. Its owners Wanda James and Scott Durrah are both military veterans and tireless advocates for Black rights. In the Denver industry, there was no one more powerful in the Black community for cannabis than James, who herself is a former political advisor to the Obama administration. James was also one of the 35 Most Influential Women in Cannabis in 2020.
Sue Taylor is a legend, and the Farmacy is a Berkeley cannabis mainstay. Taylor founded iCANN in Berkely, California in 2009 with her son and daughter-in-law. Taylor's original vision was to create a community dispensary focused on helping the senior community. Today, iCANN evolved into Farmacy, which Taylor co-founded in partnership with Glass House Group. It is an adult-use dispensary and consumption lounge which has grown massively. Taylor is also the founder of Mama Sue Wellness, her newest brand that speaks to those new older consumers.
Tyson Ranch is a celebrity cannabis brand, but well worth noting, as it is owned by the boxing legend Mike Tyson. Available with a partnership starting at Planet 13 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Tyson's Ranch is now on shelves at tons of retailers across the state of California. It is also a popular one, grown by highly coveted cultivators in the cannabis space. Tyson founded his cannabis empire in 2016 with Tyson Holistic. The brand umbrella now includes a THC-infused drink called Dwink, a pain-relief topical called CopperGel Ice, and more.
Viola, founded by NBA legend Al Harrington, is a leader in the cannabis space. Not only are Viola Brands available in almost every single legal adult-use and medical cannabis market, in 15 states, but its core mission is to help empower other equity cannabis business owners. Viola invests in food drives year-round and has committed over $500,000 to partner with, fund, and guide six cannabis license applicants through Phase 1 as well as 20 applicants through Phase 2 of our Social Equity Program in Los Angeles.
Mary and Main
A medical cannabis dispensary serving Capital Heights, Maryland, Mary and Main is another company of venerable cannabis industry giants. Founded by Hope Wiseman, Dr. Octavia Wiseman, Dr. Larry Bryant, one of the key missions for Mary and Main is cannabis education. They offer Cannabis 101 classes for people who want to learn more about how the endocannabinoid system works, and how medicinal cannabis can help with a long list of ailments.
The Peakz Company
Oakland, California, is home to a powerful voice in social equity and cannabis. The Peakz Company was founded by Jessie Grundy, who recently spoke to Jon Small on the Green Entrepreneur Podcast about his long road to the Peakz Company today. His brand is now on shelves in 40 storefronts across the state of California. "In the beginning, it was way easier than it is now because there weren’t as many people applying," Grundy told Green Entrepreneur of the social equity licensing program. "Oakland has a law that states that for every general cannabis business application, there has to be one equity application. So none of the general population could do anything unless they had equity partners."
Angela White, left, and Liz Jackon-Simpson, right, of Success Centers.
The San Francisco bay-area is home to Success Centers. The organization's goal is to offer education and tools to disenfranchised communities in order to enter the cannabis space. "To build wealth within the equity community, you've got to open the door and create an opportunity that is intentional," Liz Jackson-Simpson of Success Centers told Green Entrepreneur in an interview.
Blunts + Moore
Based in Oakland, California, Blunts + Moore is "The Happy Store." Its team of Alphonso (Tucky) Blunt Jr. and Bri Moore pulled off the feat of becoming the first-ever social equity license in Oakland's Cannabis Equity Program. Blunt Jr.'s story is that of triumph. In 2004, Blunt Jr. was arrested for possession with the intent to sell, and given 10 years of felony probation. He was determined to enter the legal industry, and attended and graduated from Oaksterdam University in 2008, to then partner with business development and cannabis operations expert Moore. The duo opened Blunts + Moore's doors in November of 2018.
National Holistic Healing Center and Ilera Holistic Healthcare
Dr. Chanda Macias, MBA is the CEO of Ilera Holistic Healthcare, one of the premier medical marijuana cultivators and processors in Louisiana. Macias is also the owner of the National Holistic Healing Center, a dispensary medical storefront in Washington D.C. Macias worked tirelessly to advance medical marijuana legislation in the state, which as recently as May 27, 2020, passed the ability to prescribe medical cannabis expanded to all doctor's offices. Dr. Macias is another entrepreneur who made our list of the 35 Most Influential Women in Cannabis in 2020.
American Cannabinoid Clinic
This medical clinic American Cannabinoid Clinic offers telehealth solutions as well as in-person consultations at their Portland, Oregon-based office, for patients who want their medical cannabis card. For the few states that are allowing medical marijuana cards to be issued technologically, advanced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, using telemedicine in order to make doctor's appointments is a game-changer. The American Cannabinoid Clinic was founded by a family of physicians: Dr. Jessica Knox, co-founder and CEO, Dr. Janice Vaugn-Knox, co-founder, and Dr. Rachel Knox, co-founder, each powerful cannabinoid advocate voices in the space. Their team of cannabis medicine specialists has over 8 years of experience counseling patients on the use of cannabis for illness and chronic disease.
Gas House Brands
Gas House is another legendary grower-turned-cannabis success story. Its founders Felix and Kingston worked their way up from the streets of Atlanta, to running a cannabis brand valued at $40 million. The duo represents OGs movement from the unlicensed to the licensed space. "Well, it goes back to skin color. It goes back to why marijuana was outlawed in the first place," Kingston tells VICE. "And why drug laws were put into place. Because there was something that they felt they could put Blacks and hippies in jail with.” The company has expanded its lineup of offerings to include prerolls, vaporizers, and flower. Consumers can find Gas House in dispensaries across Northern California and Sacramento.
Jamar Brown, co-founder of DRO.
The Denver-born cannabis brand DRO Flower has clout. Co-founder Jamar Brown has both a lifestyle and clothing company Dro Life, alongside the cannabis company Dro Flower. “I've been around cannabis all my life since day one. So what I'm doing today is perfect,” Brown told Forbes’ Warren Bobrow. Popular strains available across Denver include XXX, Gucci OG, Banana Clip, and Stallone. The company is also close to launching a cannabis brand line with rapper Waka Flocka Flame.
The industry is abuzz about this new technology, likened to an Easy Bake Oven for cannabis. Ardent allows you to make your own tinctures and edibles in a small tech container. It enables consumers to both decarb and infuse any type of concentrate with cannabis: topicals, edibles, olive oil, tincture. Its founder Shanel Lindsay began to use cannabis medicinally as an alternative to pharmaceuticals a decade ago. When Massachusetts legalized medical cannabis in 2012, Lindsay put her energy toward advocacy, working to increase patient control and access across the state. She is a strong advocate for the medical uses of cannabis, proper dosing, and refining the decarboxylation process for consumers and patients.
A beloved adult-use and medical cannabis dispensary located in Denver, Colorado, Roll Up is owned by Sherard Rogers, co-founder. Rogers has been running a lab, storefront, cultivation facility, and edibles production facility in the industry for three years, becoming a co-owner of Roll Up Dispensary in 2019. Roll Up sits in a coveted area of Denver, called the Northside, which has been home to historically Black, POC, and immigrant communities, pre-gentrification. Having a Black-owned storefront reenter a gentrified neighborhood highlights Roll Up's importance in the community.
Famous for their "high-class big ass blunt", Gentleman Quinns is a brand based in Colorado. Founded in 2015 and operated by cannabis industry veterans, including co-owners Jarell Wall and Austin Pflumm, Gentleman Quinns uses a tobacco-free iteration of the classic blunt rolled in hemp. Gentleman Quinns branding is next-level. Every blunt comes in a wooden "cigar box"-type package. The company is known for being among the first to elevate the blunt, as well as for being wholly independently-funded and even declining outside investment.
Solace Meds is a favorite of the Denver cannabis community. Founders and co-owners Rod Bernstine and Ken Correia operate four popular cannabis locales sprinkled across Colorado. It's also a rare family business, father-and-son duo, as Bernstine's son Drick Bernstine is the General Manager. Bernstine senior is a former NFL player, spending time as running back on both the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers before entering the cannabis space. Cannabis consumers will find Solace Meds storefronts from Denver to Wheat Ridge and Fort Collins. Founded in 2009 as a medical dispensary, today Solace Meds serves both the adult-use consumers and medical patients, even growing to become an interstate cannabis company with a location in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (which is owned by Correia). Giving back, the company also sponsors an initiative called Clean Colorado, where they fund the clean-up of a highway in their community.
Aroma & Loud
Gabe Lindsay and Neelein Shead are the owners of two highly-sought-after medical and adult-use cannabis dispensaries in Commerce City, Colorado—Loud Dispensary and Aroma Dispensary. He holds the title of owning the very first cannabis adult-use storefront in Commerce City, which is a small, industrial suburb just north of Denver. Highlighting local growers is paramount, as Aroma and Loud keep fresh strains on shelves rotating: from Chem 91 to Lost Tribe, StrawNana, Pamelina, and Cocoa Puffs. Reviewers on Weedmaps veritably praise both of Lindsay and Shead's stores, even driving from across the state for his cannabis.
Portland, Oregon, is home to another well-known cannabis business with Black proprietors. ReLeaf Health is owned by spirituous cannabis advocate and entrepreneurs Leona Latrese Thomas and Jerritt Thomas. The mom-and-pop-shop opened its doors in 2017. ReLeaf represents another Black-owned cannabis company that did not take outside investment. Leona Thomas told Williamette Week: "The biggest thing to figure out is a way to make lending more accessible. Historically, across all business lines, getting funding for Black and Brown people has always been more difficult than for our white counterparts. In certain areas, we are often pitted against one another, whether that be women against women, Black and Brown people against Black and Brown people. But there are 5,000 different bread companies, there can be 5,000 different cannabis companies."
Since 2006, California has been home to Purple Heart. It was the first Black-owned medical cannabis dispensary in Oakland as well as the first Black-owned medical storefront in the country. Today, it caters to both adult-use and medical consumers. The company is selflessly dedicated to giving back to its communities. In Purple Heart's 14-year long history, it has donated to tons of organizations including the Covenant House of California, Youth UpRising, The Urban Services YMCA, Oakland School for the Arts, and the Oakland Police Officers Association. The community praises Purple Heart for its clean cannabis and knowledgable staff members, some of whom have even graduated from the famed Oaksterdam University. Its founder Keith Stephenson has received acclaim from press, featured in the LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and even making an appearance on HBO.