Woman holding box of products
Leslie Bernard, Promotions Assistant at GorillaRX Wellness, displays the Black Box collection, February 10, 2022. Credit: Visit Hollyweed

LOS ANGELES: Today, the Black Box Project launched its collection at four key dispensaries in L.A. The unique collection of weed products brings together some of the best Black-owned brands in California cannabis. Available in limited quantities, the box’s creators hope it will raise awareness of social equity operators in California cannabis during Black History Month.

The collection will be on sale starting today exclusively at L.A.’s recently-opened social equity dispensaries: Josephine and Billie’s, GorillaRx Wellness, and Sixty Four & Hope‘s two locations.

Containing over $200 in product, the limited edition box will retail for $50.00.

The Black Box collection is available today, February 11, 2022. It contains products by Black-owned cannabis brands. Photographed at Gorilla RX Wellness, February 2022. Credit: Visit Hollyweed / Visit Hollyweed

The project was organized collectively when a group of brand owners took up a suggestion to feature a collection of Black-owned brands for Black History Month. The idea came from Ebony Andersen, COO of Josephine & Billies. With Andersen’s dispensary leading the charge, L.A.-based brands took action and organized based on the network they built as social equity licensees and Black cannabis entrepreneurs.

In particular, dispensary owners took the lead to bring the idea to life in time for Black History Month.

According to GorillaRX’s Kika Howze, the goal was to come together as a community despite the fact that there’s competition. “All of the Black brands and social equity dispensaries really came together as a unified front to make sure the offerings stayed connected to the community. They were really able to show solidarity across the board that it’s community first over any type of competition,” Howze said.

For Howze, the box represents the community coming together to support and promote itself. “We’re all about coming together and joining hands because the more of us that get over the finish line as possible is what is really going to move the needle into a lot of reform and things we need to see out of the cannabis industry,” Howze said.”

The activist bent of the collection ties it closely to Black History Month. For Howze, its a way for the Black community to celebrate the accomplishment of success in cannabis.

“It’s more than right especially in the communities that we’re serving that we show all throughout the supply chain that we’re coming together as a unified front and that’s really what this box represents,” Howze said.

All of the Black brands and social equity dispensaries really came together as a unified front to make sure the offerings stayed connected to the community. They were really able to show solidarity across the board that it’s community first over any type of competition.

Kika Howze, GorillaRX Wellness Dispensary

Many brands, participants say, pay lip service to Black culture during February but do little to support Black-owned cannabis brands. The box, they felt, was a way for consumers to show support and for the community itself to highlight Black Excellence in cannabis.

According to its official announcement, “The Black Box Project was founded by LA-based Black-owned social equity dispensaries and leading brands to highlight the importance of equity and inclusion in cannabis while creating unity and support amongst the Black cannabis community. It also provides and opportunity to encourage Angelenos to buy Black in February while introducing them to the quality and culture brought to the industry by Black-owned brands.”

According to a social media posting by participating brand Viola, the box is “for the culture, by the culture. The Black Box Project is a curated collection of Black excellence, designed to uplift Black voices & highlight Black brands.”

Kika Howze, co-owner of Gorilla Rx Wellness, and Cliff Eure, Store Manager, stand in the Gorilla Rx dispensary in the neighborhood of Crenshaw, February, 2022. Credit: Visit Hollyweed / Visit Hollyweed

The project allows participants to bring awareness to the fact that Black and Brown folks are still underrepresented in the cannabis industry, despite being disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.

“It is absurd that we live in a world where Black people are still the most likely to get arrested for cannabis, and the least represented in the legal market,” said Whitney Beatty, CEO Of Josephine & Billies, who helped spearhead the project.

“We need customers to stand with us and show the industry that an inclusive supply chain matters,” Beatty said.

The project highlights not only Black brands but importantly the new Black-owned social equity dispensaries that have recently opened in Los Angeles.

Aja Allen, owner of Sixty Four and Hope, one of the social equity dispensaries distributing the box, said that the product offers the community a way to show their support and to learn about the supply chain.

“Sixty Four & Hope is participating in the Black Box Project because we want highlight these Black-owned brands & encourage people to buy Black in February,” Allen said.

“We must be deliberate and strategic in our journey for equitable freedom,” Allen said.

We need customers to stand with us and show the industry that an inclusive supply chain matters.

Whitney Beatty, CEO, Josephine & Billies

The dispensary owner expects her customers will be into it.

“I think our guests will be floored at the quality and variety of products offered in the box at an affordable price. Guaranteed to sell out,” Allen said.

According to GorillaRx Store Manager of Brand Promotion Cliff Eure, “it’s a one of a kind SKU that’s never been seen in the industry.”

Eure, who was part of the planning process for the project, says that the idea of the box is to provide a platform. “It’s giving itself a platform that’s never really been there in the first place,” Eure said.

“This year actually seems to be when social equity programs and social equity brands get the light that they needed for so long,” Eure said.

We want highlight these Black-owned brands & encourage people to buy Black in February. We must be deliberate & strategic in our journey for equitable freedom. I think our guests will be floored at the quality & variety of products offered in the box

Aja Allen, Sixy Four and Hope, Mid-City

For Eure, the project importantly shows the faces behind the companies, to make a personal connection to owner’s life experiences. “The idea of representing the faces behind these brands and and actually claiming them as Black owned claiming them as where they come from, it’s been a long time coming for that,” Eure said.

“That part of the storytelling does add way more weight to the product itself and what it really means to people purchasing it,” Eure said.

According to Timeka Drew, whose brand Biko Flower is represented in the collection, taking part has been validating.

“The black LA cannabis community is an example of folks who have been challenged greatly, coming together against the odds to support each other and invest in each other, Drew said.

“Building with each retailer and brand participating in this project has been an unforgettable and validating experience for me as a Black founder in the cannabis space. This is only the beginning,” she said.

The box shows community solidarity and acknowledgment. “We are showing how we can survive and thrive together, regardless of how difficult it might be for us to manage the obstacles that continue to plague our businesses,” Drew said.

Included in the box is a brochure showing the faces of all the participants as well as quotes from them related to the project. Athlete Al Harrington, owner of the brand Viola, writes, “the goal for minority-owned cannabis businesses is generational wealth. Built it, and you build an equitable industry. You win.”

The Black Box Collection Contents:

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Note: An earlier version of this article misattributed the original idea for the Black Box Project. The article was updated to reflect this correction, and we regret the error.