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Jan 24, 2019

Christine De La Rosa is a serial entrepreneur whose company, The People’s Dispensary, proves that the cannabis industry can do more than just churn money for corporations. It can give back to disadvantaged communities, enable mom and pops to flourish, and still turn a healthy profit.

As corporations flush with cash rush into the cannabis space it’s time we ask, ‘Is this the only way forward?’ Do these companies, that are destined to turn vast profits from an industry projected to worth $500 billion once legalization occurs, plan to help the communities they serve or will they be allowed to create another tobacco or alcohol industry, dominated by a few players that can swallow up and spit out every small operator?

These are questions we need to ask right now. This week’s guest, Christine De La Rosa, is proving that large venture capital backed companies can and should formalize a way to ensure that more of the folks hurt by prohibition get an opportunity to profit in the industry. 

De La Rosa is no pie in the sky dreamer. She is a successful entrepreneur based in Oakland, CA, who has a nose for making money. She has founded an events company, several restaurants, and, along with three partners, The People’s Dispensary, an organization that has created a framework for ensuring that small players, people of color, the formerly incarcerated and other disadvantaged communities get a fair shot at participating in the enormous wealth the industry is destined to create.

As she points out: "For small players the barrier to entry is always financing. You can have a grower who has been growing for 60 years, but if she doesn’t have a pathway to financing, to pay licensing fees, state, county, and state taxes, she’s not going to have a chance. In any other industry you can walk into a bank and get a loan against a future crop. Not in this business.”

When the legalization movement began some 50 years ago “doing well by doing good” was intrinsic to the cause. It would be a shame -- scratch that -- a tragedy if those values were sacrificed at the altar of the mighty dollar. The industry is just taking off. Now's the right time to ensure that everyone who wants in has a fair shot at succeeding.

Click here to view TPD’s Cannabis Equity Framework White Paper for your business or community.