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equity entrepreneur caliFornialeaf.COM

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Please welcome our new monthly Equity Entrepreneur feature, where we highlight business operators and thought leaders who seek to build this industry in a way that sheds the prejudices of the past while reflecting on the rich diversity of the plant and the people who use it. Enjoy!

RAMON GARCIA

Padre Mu Distribution Manager

R

amon Garcia doesn’t wait for change. He makes it. When California appeared poised to legalize adult-use sales in 2016, Garcia partnered with fellow advocate Nina Parks to establish a framework for Cannabis equity in the state. “It was out of necessity more than anything else,” he clarified. “On the state level, nobody else was talking about equity. It was me and Nina in a room with $100-an-hour lawyers and $100,000 consultants, trying to represent for our communities.” Representing for the community is a core tenet of Garcia’s work, which also includes overseeing operations for his Oakland-based Cannabis distribution and delivery company, Padre Mu. If the first major hurdle was creating an equity program out of whole cloth, Garcia believes the next step is to bring individual equity operators together into a local ecosystem. Garcia credits his multiethnic background as well as his father – who was both a cultivator and an activist – with guiding his efforts around shaping policy and his own business interests within the industry. “In my household, this plant was taught to me as being part of our natural medicines and a piece of our overall health,” he said. “From the age of six or seven, I remember sleeping in the garden to make sure that the deer didn’t eat the plants. Eventually, when I was fresh out of high school, I started growing it myself. This plant has just always been around me throughout my life.” Following his father’s death in 2013, Garcia began to get more heavily involved in the politics of Cannabis activism.

“We want to teach more folks how to take this fight on within their own communities, because I’ve got a feeling that this model of inclusivity and equity is something that can go beyond Cannabis.” NOV. 2020

“I understood the impact of the War on Drugs in our community and how they used this plan to destroy our community,” he explained. “I knew that, basically, America being America and how corporate structures have taken off, that they were going to make this into a commodity and that the sacrifices – the damage done to our communities in the name of this plant – were going to be forgotten.” One long-term result of his efforts: being able to get his mother’s property in Mendocino licensed. He also helped license his family’s farm and gardens in Nevada County into Sanctuary Farms, who have in turn established a partnership with a local equity company to provide distribution. Creating such systems, in which equity operators can link together in ways that benefit both the product and the bottom line, is now one of Garcia’s major focal points. And as always, he’s got the goods to back it up in the form of a new program he’s about to launch: an equity trade certification process. “We’ve created a certification process that identifies equity products for retailers, manufacturers and consumers,” Garcia shared. “So that they’re able to show support with their dollar.” The certification concept, a project of San Francisco’s Original Equity Group (OEG), hopes to focus the spotlight on local equity

brands. The approach involves branding qualified products with an equity seal to help customers and retailers make them easier to spot. While the process will initially be limited to San Francisco, Garcia suggests interested parties keep an ear out for an announcement on expanding things across the state and beyond. In addition to the heightened exposure built into OEG’s equity trade certification process, Garcia also hopes the concept kicks off an avalanche that sees consumers choosing to spend their dollars with local, equity-owned companies, who in turn support each other as well. And that doesn’t just go for Cannabis. “I still think there’s so much more that has to be done,” Garcia said, “and so we will continue to try to be a voice for that. More than anything, we’re trying to get information out and to empower leadership. We want to teach more folks how to take this fight on within their own communities, because I’ve got a feeling that this model of inclusivity and equity is something that can go beyond Cannabis. We can show corporate America how to be responsible for reinvesting in the communities that they take from, and how that can benefit their bottom line as opposed to everything just being about money. I’m hoping that Cannabis will be the example that creates some kind of broader change.” PA D R E M U .CO M | @ PA D R E M U

INTERVIEW by ZACK RUSKIN @ZACKRUSKIN for CALIFORNIA LEAF | PHOTO by MIKE ROSATI @ROSATIPHOTOS

Nov. 2020 - California Leaf  

The Harvest Issue | Leaf Nation looks at Cannabis growers at the peak of their busiest time.

Nov. 2020 - California Leaf  

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