DESLEY BROOKS SAYS I AM WELL HEELED AND PRIVILEGED. SHE IS 100% CORRECT.
4&20 Blackbirds was featured last Thursday on the television show, the Rundown with Robin Thede, on BET (Black Entertainment Television). The story focused on Oakland’s Cannabis equity permitting process and its stated goals to create wealth in communities that were adversely affected by the War on Drugs. We bring another perspective. This piece highlights where our company stands in this socio-political grudge match with the City of Oakland and the local Cannabis Industry. Our CEO, Chip Moore, represented who we are, and what we are doing in West Oakland. Check out the segment!
Please feel free to share with your extended community as we raise awareness about our vision for our dispensary and its place in West Oakland.
From Chip Moore, CEO of 4&20 Blackbirds:
Desley Brooks, the creator of the Cannabis Equity Permit Program and Oakland City Council Member has accused me of being a “well-heeled”, well funded, Johnny-come-lately in the Oakland cannabis scene. That I am a vehicle of privilege and as she simply decrees, “That isn’t what this is about.”
Desley Brooks is 100% correct. I am well heeled. Councilmember Brooks’ narrative was to describe me as a small business owner who just happens to be Black, and has just arrived on the Cannabis scene. The kind of Carpetbagger that takes advantage of our community and has the funding to get in quick, and make big fast bucks. In this respect Councilmember Brooks is 100% wrong! I cannot begin to describe the complexities and myriad of ways in which I have been adversely affected by the War on Drugs.
I am “well-heeled” because my family has been in the Bay Area for 3 generations. My great-grandmother brought her family from Louisiana to SF by sheer force of will, and that family put down roots that quickly spread to Oakland. I was conceived in Alameda to a beautiful black woman from San Francisco and her young black military husband, and I was born in SF. I live in South Berkeley with my wife (who was born and raised in Oakland and Berkeley), and our beautiful children (who were all born in Oakland). I am not new to West Oakland, and it is not new to me.
I am “well-heeled” because I have a network of small investors who support and believe in our vision. A lot of those people invested whatever they could spare and put behind this effort. And a lot of them look just like District 6 constituents.
And, as privileged as we are to have a community that believes in us and supports us, we are severely underfunded. Raising capital to start and maintain a cannabis business in this uncertain business climate is difficult. Our team has invested everything they have and take NO salaries in order to make this dream come true.
We are privileged, because working on a tight budget provided by our network of small community investors, and with our local knowledge and ears to the ground, successfully purchased an ideal location for a new dispensary in a West Oakland neighborhood which has been historically underserved by Oakland’s cannabis industry. We are privileged, because by choosing West Oakland, we have the opportunity to provide employment and vocational training for a community lacking in both.
4&20 Blackbirds stands 100% with ensuring equity in the burgeoning Cannabis Industry. Yet, we fail to understand how Oakland’s current scheme -- which while it will reward a few equity applicants, will also reward the wealthiest companies at the expense of small business owners who simply cannot compete with the corporate cannabis who can afford to stack equity applicants.
I am a local African American CEO and I have already created a dynamic cannabis business that is proudly in Oakland, and from Oakland.
I have been in the Cannabis Industry my entire adult life (and honestly beyond that). I was a behind-the-scenes operator who slowly and methodically built a reputation and a network that allowed me to gain access to parts of the industry that most people never see. I came into legal cannabis space to create change. To create places of access and to provide a skill set to the next generation that will make them leaders/experts in this new industry. My privilege comes from the belief that I am uniquely positioned in the cannabis industry to be the CEO that breaks the GREEN ceiling and ushers a new generation of cannabis in OAKLAND.