Proprietor of Portland’s first, largest Black-owned hashish firm confronted arrest as a teen; helps federal legalization

Public comment on a Senate proposal to decriminalize cannabis nationwide ended in early September. Meanwhile, support for full legalization has only increased.

We detailed in a previous report a pending proposal from US Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), the Remove cannabis from the federal controlled substances list, empower states to implement their own cannabis laws, and ensure Americans cannot be arrested or excluded from public housing or financial aid for cannabis use where it is legal.

In an interview with The Black Wall St. Times, the owner of Portland’s first and largest black-owned cannabis company, spoke about being criminalized for cannabis use in his youth and how legalization would open the door to a new generation of black entrepreneurs.

Art Boyd is the CEO and owner of Phresh Cannabis. He broke barriers in 2015 when he successfully applied for a marijuana business license in Oregon’s then brand new industry.

With one of the largest cultivation facilities in Portland and the first retail cannabis pharmacy in nearby Forest Grove, Boyd said his parents saved him from going the wrong way.

“I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. In an urban district. We as young blacks were profiled as drug dealers, ”Boyd told the Black Wall Street Times on Zoom in late August.

He said he and his friends were stopped, molested and thrown on the floor for being caught with small amounts of cannabis.

“It would create a vicious cycle of lawyers, courts and probation officers. And if during the probation period you weren’t disciplined enough to do what they asked you to do, you would go back to jail. And again, for what – half a gram of marijuana? ”Said Boyd.

the US Senate proposalThe Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would tackle the war on drugs by eliminating the possibility of arrest and allowing individuals to be arrested for simple possession benefits aimed at helping them thrive as cannabis business owners.

Unlike some of his peers, Boyd had supportive parents who grew up a little more affluent than others in his neighborhood. They helped him embark on a path of entrepreneurship by giving him a repair shop for resale. By 2004, and without a college degree, Boyd had already amassed 12 properties of his own.

Early success led him to invest in other companies, such as the cannabis industry.

Before opening Phresh Cannabis in Oregon, Boyd traveled to Denver to learn more about the safety business.

“I went around three times a week collecting cash and paying bills and pay slips,” Boyd said. He was also on the board and attended weekly company meetings.

“For three years I just soaked up all the information, took what I learned there, and moved to Oregon.”

By 2021, Phresh Cannabis had won many awards for its flawless product and service.

“What sets us apart is our flower,” said Boyd, calling his grower the Rolls-Royce of grow facilities.

“A lot of people just toss a lot of plants in a room, grow them and harvest them. They don’t really care. Everything we do is handicraft. We have a great crew from breeders to trimmers. “

When asked if he supported the decriminalization and legalization of the federal government, Boyd said “of course yes”. He said it would be a tipping point if state-insured banks were allowed to work with cannabis companies that would help minority entrepreneurs with less access to finance.

“I was branded a common drug offender for less than a gram of marijuana,” Boyd said, saying he supports the eradication of all cannabis possession crime.

“I want the bank bill passed so that state-insured banks can open up to marijuana, so people like us can go to a bank with a business proposal and sell it to them, maybe to get a loan,” Boyd said.

It is noteworthy that the Brookings Institution also supports the Senate proposal and believes that it does not go far enough.

“The financial loss of a family affected by the drug war requires additional attention, particularly in areas such as childcare, housing and education,” said The Institution wrote on a blog submitted to the Senate Finance Committee.

In addition, the conference of the Mayors of the United States advocated legalization and calls on President Biden and Congress to pass full legalization for adults 21 and older.

When asked what advice he would give young black entrepreneurs aspiring to become cannabis business leaders, Boyd said the industry was evolving and people should explore new emerging markets in states that have not yet fully adopted the industry.

“It’s easier to get into the industry as early as possible. As soon as the industry in the state gets going and flourishes, it gets really expensive. “

For those who don’t have immediate capital to get started, Boyd emphasized the importance of gaining knowledge through sweat participation.

“If you don’t have the resources to really get in and build your business from the ground up, get into the industry as you can,” by working in every position you can find, he said.