The War on Drugs has been a huge conversation and debate in recent news and it has a significant impact on the African-American community. For those who may be unfamiliar, the war on drugs is a campaign led by the U.S. federal government with the stated aim being to reduce the illegal drug trade in the United States.
The initiative includes a set of drug policies that are intended to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of psychoactive drugs that the participating governments and the UN have made illegal. Today, the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for an end to the War on Drugs, estimates that the United States spends $51 billion annually on these initiatives.
Now that Cannabis is legal in most States, not all but a lot, the government is definitely trying to have a play in the revenue streams which impacts the urban community. However, there are brands and movements out there that are on our side, such as New Life CA.
New Life CA was founded by Carlton Williams and it is a socially conscious cannabis brand focused on uplifting local urban communities that have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs. The company is based out of Oakland, California and they hold three with the State of California—-which include cultivation, distribution and non storefront retail. Mr. Williams is an Oakland native and is considered an equity applicant.
I recently interviewed Carlton to learn more about his movement and brand. Check out the interview below.
Growing up and still to this day who are your inspirations? How did they impact your life?
Growing up as a ward of the state and moving from place to place, I’ve always had to stay inspired through my own resilience and determination to survive. I guess I've drawn most of my inspiration from figures such as Malcom X, Huey P Newton and Nat Turner. Business wise, I would say I'm inspired by the folks that I’ve watched grow over the years like Diddy, 50 cent, E-40, Master P, and Obama.
What age did you know that you were going to be an entrepreneur?
I was a late bloomer, although all the signs through out life pointed towards entrepreneurship for me, I lacked the confidence and knowledge to believe. The change came about a year into starting my company. One day I looked around and said to myself, “This is really happening,” at that point I really believed in myself as an entrepreneur.
How did you first get involved in the cannabis industry?
I first started under Prop 215 (the medical model) in 2014 as new life medical collective. Once the laws went recreational, my city was the first in California to create regs and release applications. Oakland was also the first city to create an Equity program.
In 2017 I saw a news article that explained the criteria for equity and I found that I fit that criteria, so I applied and received my permits from the city of Oakland to operate.
Can you tell us about your company New Life CA and what it does?
New Life CA is a socially conscious cannabis brand focused on uplifting local urban communities that have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs.
We started in 2014 as a Medical Marijuana Delivery Service that operated under the collective model. We began operations in Oakland and Fresno, CA. During our delivery journey we encountered the inconsistencies of cultivation; ranging from spotty lab testing, poor bud structures to poorly controlled grow environments. These experiences ignited our passion for becoming honest farmers that saw cannabis as a conduit for change.
We hire the people from the communities affected by the war on drugs. We also support the arts where each featured artist receives royalties! Your purchase has power!
We work like a village by collaborating with home grown businesses through events and cross branding.
Your company did a fundraiser this year called Smokin Salsa, can you tell us about the event and its cause?
Smokein Salsa was a fundraiser we put together for a Black girls Youth group called the Kanju Girls. We raffled off some baskets and art work. Also we gave 100 percent of the tickets sales to the group. The event included an open cannabis bar food and salsa lessons.
Also in July you were involved in a Canna-Wellness Series on the 5 senses, what are some things you can tell us about the connection between cannabis and the 5 senses?
The five senses workshops are coordinated by our COO, NP Monifa Willis. She combines the 5 Senses with cannabis and therapeutic practices to exercise mindfulness with in the community. These our super dope workshops. NP Monifa brings evidence based research and practice and combines it with cannabis and wellness.
New Life CA has now been linked to cannabis delivery, what are the guidelines and how does it work?
All you have to do is be 21 years of age and have a valid California ID. Go to www.newlifeca.com, go to shop with us and place an order.
We know you're involved in the community and host so many events, what are some upcoming events/dates we should be looking out for?
Every last Friday of the month we host a 420 community movie night. Also, every 420 weekend, we fundraise for a local youth group. There's a sister that runs a rap and roll event that we stay in tune with. Look on our website for those events.
You've experienced some push back and sabotage by local eco-cannabis group, why do you think you've been targeted?
I believe it's the all so common issue of systematic racism and white supremacy.
What great words of wisdom and advice can you offer to fellow entrepreneurs and the readers?
Know exactly what you want, plan and execute. Be patient with yourself, learn from your mistakes. Another Thing have passion for what you choose, so you can endure the marathon.
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Evan Wheeler hails from Camden, NJ. Most know him as Huey X, which is his selected born again name. It was selected by his love of Huey P Newton and Malcolm X who he follows for their beliefs and looks up to as his mentors. Huey is a well educated brother by the standards of college, as well as being a self taught activist and revolutionary through his experiences in life. He also thinks of himself as an entrepreneur being involved in so many different fields that include: poetry, writing, youth advocacy, business development, investing, and production. He is, “Always looking to advance the culture & legacy ".