However, it would seem so in this day and age of cannabis legalization. According to Amber Butts author of ‘The pervasiveness of anti-Blackness in the cannabis industry’ noted the following staggering statistics about the legal cannabis industry:
“Over 20% of incarcerated persons are in prison for marijuana possession, and the legalization of the drug is not getting them out. These anti-Black and culturally incompetent policies extend from the consumers of marijuana to the dispensaries, to the various conventions and assemblies dedicated to its legalization.
These conventions often use buzz words like “diversity,” “inclusion,” “community” and “sustainability” while discussing the future of the industry. Yet dress codes, ID checks, majority white speakers, the high cost of attendance and vetting are all expectations dependant on entry. It is no surprise that given the statistics, the dominators of the industry and the criminalization of Black communities, less than 1% of US-based cannabis dispensaries are Black-owned. Non-Black investors rarely communicate, support and/or endorse Black dispensary owners and their vision.”
The People's Dispensary is changing the face of ownership and the narrative
The People's Dispensary (TPD) is weighing out social justice with every gram on their scale!
Not only is TPD collectively owned, but it is also 75% owned by people of color, 75% owned by women of color, and are 100% owned by LGBTQ people.
People often refer to them as ‘Super Friends’ Meet the The People's Dispensaries co-founders: co-founders Chaney Turner an Events Producer and Political Activist, Charleen Caabay a ‘Chopped’ Reality TV Chef Champion and Restaurateur, Christine De La Rosa formerly from the High Tech world turned Mogul, and Michael Schlieker who left Big Pharma to become an entrepreneur and investor. Each of them has lived a different experience that brought them to cannabis, but the common thread these ‘super friends’ all share is the belief that a dispensary can do more than just sell cannabis products. Using the profits from this medicine it can heal, uplift and transform entire communities.
The road to equality is EQUITY!
Karen Hunter recently interviewed Christine De La Rosa, CEO of The People's Dispensary - Equity in Cannabis Industry on SiriusXM where she described her first experiences in getting cannabis and quickly learning there were no black or brown people handling the bud or the money.
The People's Dispensaries’ built in an Equity plan to change that by creating an opportunity for small and non-accredited investors to legally invest in the cannabis industry. Which according to TPD cofounder De La Rosa will be a $44 billion dollar industry by 2020. Their equity plan includes individual, employees, and community.
TPD already has over 100 small investors who have raised half a million dollars - while that might not sound like a lot, it's a big deal as De La Rosa continues to explain; “The People's Dispensary is letting people buy a certain amount of shares for $1.00. Which means if someone scrapes together a grand or so and TPD hit their 2020 target these small investors could own $100,000 to $250,000 in shares, thereby creating generational wealth” - a term not common in disenfranchised communities or Queer Communities of Color.
That's not the only way disenfranchised communities benefit from The People’s Dispensaries’ Equity Plan - they have also included a Impact Fund that allows their dispensaries and their investors to reinvest a portion of future profits into city initiatives focused on ending criminalization and supporting disenfranchised and vulnerable communities.
Proof of concept:
The co-founders of TPD quickly learned the cannabis market was not serving the needs of people of color, women, queer people, veterans, formerly incarcerated and people with chronic illnesses. They started The People’s Dispensary in 2016 in Oakland thinking they would serve a few hundred of their friends – but shortly after opening their vision quickly developed a loyal, diverse, active client base of almost 4,000 members, with a monthly retention rate of 85%.
With this knowledge, they were no longer content to only reach their Oakland communities – they wanted to uplift underserved communities everywhere. TPD’s equity structure, which remains unique to the industry, allows people to help bring dispensaries to their towns, enrich their communities, and improve their quality of life. This literally drove them up the I-5 North to Portland, Oregon.
Each of the co-founders has a very personal relationship with Portland, where for many years they have invested in Queer Communities of Color and businesses because, it is no secret that Oregon is one of the whitest places in the United States, they understood early on that it was paramount to include investing in the Pacific Northwest to help stabilize and grow these diverse communities.
The People's Dispensary can now proudly say they are fully vested in Portland. Announcing the grand opening of their first Oregon location at the start of the “Green Mile” at 6714 NE Sandy Blvd. Portland, Oregon 97213 on April 20, 2019. It is being dubbed “The Peoples Day.” They will be hosting a fun-filled day of art, music, medicine, and equity! This event is open to the public over the age of 21 with valid identification.
In addition to The People's Dispensary Oakland and Portland location TPD is gearing up to launch dispensaries in Los Angeles, Fresno, San Francisco, New York State, New Jersey, and a few in the mid and southwest areas of the United States. Here are some links to their product, equity, policy, and investor information.