By: Veronica Castillo “Our entire staff is made up of black people and other minorities, and not that we wish to segregate ourselves, we just hope to provide an example and business model as well as dispel any stereotypes about the ability of black people to operate and thrive in a legal cannabis industry.” […]
By: Veronica Castillo
“Our entire staff is made up of black people and other minorities, and not that we wish to segregate ourselves, we just hope to provide an example and business model as well as dispel any stereotypes about the ability of black people to operate and thrive in a legal cannabis industry.”
It’s no secret that the war on drugs was a war on black and brown people. American history can’t hide it because like Jay-Z says: “men lie, women lie, numbers don’t”:
- The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in prison.
- Cannabis arrests across America make up 43% of all drug arrests, that’s more than any other drug.
- 5% of illicit drug users are African American, yet African Americans represent 29% of those arrested and 33% of those incarcerated for drug offenses.
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report that says black people are 3 times more likely than white people to get arrested for Cannabis possession in Nevada.
With figures like these and a clear agenda to keep black people down and out, it was amazing for me to visit and chat with the grow team at Harvest Foundation Las Vegas- Vegas Botany. While I travel the country exploring cannabis, it’s extremely important for me to meet with black and brown people in the industry.
About the Harvest Foundation Las Vegas
The Harvest Foundation is one of three black owned and operated cultivation facilities in the state of Nevada, and has been operating since 2015 in both medical and retail cannabis markets. The Harvest Foundation is a small staff, boutique craft cannabis producer, that prides themselves on the ethical practices used in producing cannabis:
“We believe in providing an experience for the consumers of our products. Each batch is crafted with love and care to ensure that every bag or jar embodies the 4 elements of the cannabis experience: smell, bag appeal, break down, and most importantly- taste. Our aspirations are to inspire, educate, and elevate the culture of black people in Cannabis by providing a blueprint of branding, execution, professionalism, and profitability that others can replicate and create more ownership opportunities”.
As I toured their facility, which just celebrated a 6-month milestone: revamping of the facility, staff, practices, and genetics; I was able to experience their passion to inspire, educate, and build. The Vegas Botany grow team, led by Director of Cultivation, Dyran Stalling and Assistant Director of Cultivation, Eddie Petro are so full of insight, information, and passion.
It felt like I stepped into the grow rooms with them and saw all the plants turn to them to say hi. Like, they stood up, faced their growers, and sent their terpenes into the air as their way to say hello. When Dyran and Eddie talked about the plants, when they discussed genetics, when they provided insight on the nutrients used- it was like listening to the plants themselves. These guys love those plants and those plants love them back; that energy and love is felt in the inhales.
It wasn’t just the grow team though- everyone in the facility had an energy and a passion that jumped out of their hearts and into the conversation.
The Harvest Foundation Team
The Harvest Foundation Las Vegas, team consists of:
- License holders: Donnie Burton and Larry Lemons
- Director and Assistant Director of Cultivation: Dyran Stalling and Eddie Petro
- Compliance Coordinator: Asia Duncan
- Propagation Manager: Darneisha Siggers
- Inventory/Post Production Manager: Kevin Flower
- Sales/Brand Ambassador: Arielle Jackson
- Post Production Specialist: Shan Diaz
The cultivation facility has five flowering rooms, and though they grow traditional strains, I am told that the Harvest Foundation likes to create their own splashes and waves by cultivating their genetics, bred in house by the Vegas Botany grow team:
Golden Nectar: An overload of orange and tangerine flavors and aromas backed with honey sweet OG undertones.
DosiFire: Sweet and sour with some fruity gas. It’s a resinous hybrid with a complex and nuanced flavor-profile to match its well-rounded mind and body effect.
Fukka OG: “All Gas No Brakes” experience. A potent crossing of Diesel Fire and Face Off OG. A must have for OG fanatics looking for a next level experience with fuel flavors.
These strains can be found under their brand, Area 51. A brand created and launched by The Harvest Foundation Las Vegas which offers flower and pre rolls, with plans to add more products:
“We are looking to do some collabs in the near future with a few productions to release concentrated Harvest Foundation brand products. Our genetic library is vast and some of the things we will be releasing soon consist of strains like: Fucka OG, Chem OG, DosiFire, Golden Nectar, Shirley, Headband hashplant, Black Sunshine, and White Runtz to name a few.”
The Harvest Foundation Activism and The Arts
The Vegas Botany Grow team is very active in the cannabis community. Their social media shows them at community meetings, being a voice, and pushing for better legislation.
“We have and will continue to support groups like Norml because it’s extremely important to us to push for legislative change. As personal victims of the war on drugs, we love to see the legalization but make no mistake, we believe in decriminalization of cannabis and that no one should ever be jailed for this plant.”
Full of magic transferred to the plants, Director of Cultivation, Dyran, is also connected to the art of music. He is the co-founder of Money City Management Group, a black owned and established music management company:
“Money City Management Group is here to provide creative, artist friendly management strategies, to help empower artists. We believe everyone is their own brand and only you should own you. We collaborate and work with various artists covering all genres of music.”
There are two artists signed to Money City. Ire Williams is a talented wordsmith from Chicago with a witty play on words, baritone with a bit of raspiness, and lyrics on subject matters that make him a must listen. And Big Dahl, this man is a born performer. He has a soulful sound and heartfelt melodies that give chills.
When I asked the team of growers at Vegas Botany, what it feels like to be one of only a few black owned businesses in cannabis, their response was:
“It is a gift and curse. Cannabis, like many other industries in America, has a race disparity when it comes to ownership and operation. On one hand you feel blessed that you are a rarity but on the other, there’s disappointment. This happens when we meet and encounter other black people who are equally talented, but will never get the opportunity. Things like lack of capital and/or various qualifications are created with the intent of marginalizing the ownership pool.”
When I am able to sit with black and brown people in this industry, I look at bravery, representation of beating the odds, the sight of hard work, and the hope that one day, the industry won’t be so muddy, allowing fairness the opportunity to shine.
REFERENCES: reviewjournal.com/crime/aclu-report-highlights-race-disparity-in-nevada-pot-related-arrests-2010818/, naacp.org/criminal-justice-fact-sheet/, pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/01/22/four-in-ten-u-s-drug-arrests-in-2018-were-for-marijuana-offenses-mostly-possession/