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Sunday, June 4, 2023

How Virgil Grant shaped social justice for Los Angeles

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Social justice is one of the most important conversations in cannabis. This is because the cannabis industry and the lawmakers who oversee it need to atone for all the damage done to black and brown communities.

“We were the first to go to jail, we should be one of the first to get a license.”

– Virgil Grant

Few people know this better than Virgil Grant, who was instrumental in reviving the Los Angeles cannabis industry and the Social Justice Program.

“I got Measure M and the Social Justice Program was voted on unanimously. I just did what I knew was the right thing for my people and colleagues in the industry. When they write history books on cannabis, there is no way a book could be written without Virgil’s name in it,” as He says during a phone call with Leafly.

Who is Virgil Grant?

Virgil Grant is a longtime cannabis owner and operator in Los Angeles, California. is the owner california west coast hemp, a chain of dispensaries from three locations in Downtown, Melrose, and Crenshaw in Los Angeles.

California Cannabis West Coast logo with green and red interlocking letter C with hearts and text written on it

Additionally, Grant is a founding member of the Greater Los Angeles Caregivers Alliance (GLACA) and co-founder of both the Southern California Alliance and the California Minority Alliance, three advocacy groups that have helped push for legalization and social justice in cannabis in Los Angeles. You can recognize his face from Smoke BET: Marijuana + Documentary on Black America.

Virgil has been one of the biggest movers and shakers in the Los Angeles cannabis community since the early 1990s. Even before legalization, Virgil ran Compton Streets, with distributions set up throughout housing developments in Watts, East Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, and Crenshaw.

His producer’s street reputation led him to hook up with many of your favorite rappers at the time, including Eazy-E, Coolio, MC Eiht, DJ Quik, 2pac and all-out Death Row artists.

In 2004, Virgil moved from the old cannabis market to the medical cannabis market. The Holistic Caregivers opened in the heart of Compton, followed by locations in Garden, Crenshaw, Downtown LA, Koreatown and finally The Valley.

By then, I was an advocate. I was a founding member of the Greater Los Angeles Caregivers Association (GLACA). That was one of the first organizations to emerge outside of NORML. NORML was there to legalize cannabis; GLACA focused more on secure retail access, says Grant.

Unfortunately, in 2008, his successful business was raided by federal agents, which resulted in Virgil being imprisoned in federal prison for six years.

Upon his release in 2014, Grant immediately returned to the mission, capitalizing on advocacy groups such as GLACA; LA Cannabis Task Force; Farmers Alliance Delivery Alliance and Manufacturers Alliance.

During this time, he saw that all of these groups needed one unified voice, and by the strength of his reputation, network, and connections to the city council, Virgil (together with the Southern California Alliance) became just that.

Moving with the power of the people behind it, Virgil’s next mission was to create a legal framework for taxing, enforcing and regulating cannabis in the city of Los Angeles. This was the birth of the AD scale.

What is the measurement M?

Proposition 64 legalized adult cannabis use at the California state level. m . measurement He added the legal framework needed to start and operate the Los Angeles cannabis industry.

Compton, Watts, South Central, East Los Angeles, this is where the failed drug war targeted. We wanted to make sure that if you live in those zip codes, and have a felony cannabis, you’re in line for social justice. It wasn’t about race.”

– Virgil Grant

He helped overturn controversial Proposition D, which put a limit of 135 dispensaries on the number of cannabis companies that could operate in Los Angeles and banned many previously legal dispensaries from obtaining licensing.

Virgil was lead author on Measure M, and when it was passed, the city council demanded that social justice policy be implemented alongside it. They voted and approved the program unanimously.

“We were the first to go to prison, we should be one of the first to get a license. Everyone voted unanimously that the social justice program be related to measure M.. and from social justice they created a section of the cannabis regulations (DCR). If I don’t start the M measure, There will be no DCR,” he says.

From size M, grown Los Angeles Social Justice Program, a three-level program was supposed To prioritize licensing for people residing in the zip codes most affected by the failure of the War on Drugs.

slow to no progress

Unfortunately, there was very little social justice program in Los Angeles for applicants. And while Virgil Grant is responsible for bringing social justice to the table in Los Angeles, the city must be willing to serve the people.

More than four years after passing Procedure M, there should be no social justice applicants waiting for licenses. But this is life in Los Angeles hemp, where Protracted litigation and administrative processes The odds have been piling up against the black and brown cannabis trade.

And while we saw some retail movement in the Los Angeles cannabis scene in 2021, there are still many ways the program can be improved to make it truly supportive of minority-owned businesses trying to make it into the legal cannabis industry in California.

They can brag and say that we have a social justice program. But at the end of the day, the Department of Cannabis Regulations (DCR) dropped the ball in a huge fashion. The only people who are hurt and affected are the same people who were negatively affected before. This is just shock upon shock.”

– Virgil Grant


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