For several days after the soft launch in May, the phone at Pusherman’s office on 10th Avenue near Cherry Avenue was silent. There was no order and there was no chatter with the walkie-talkie where the delivery driver picked up the buds of Ark, THC gummies and cannabis flowers.
Carlos Zepeda, founder of the cannabis delivery service, said: Still, Zepeda has made the same progress as in the last three years. For the son of a Honduras immigrant, the newly launched delivery service is the culmination of many years of work to start his own licensed cannabis business. “It means the world to me,” Zepeda said.
But the road to his business ownership has never been easier.
After a failed attempt to start a similar business in California City, Zepeda’s company sued California for corruption and unfair licensing practices, but the case was later dismissed. He returned to his hometown of Long Beach in search of new opportunities. “I licked my wounds and saw what was happening here in the social equity program,” Zepeda said.
There weren’t many.
Launched in 2018 to help those most affected by previous cannabis crimes, the program has so far been concrete, especially with regard to increasing racial diversity among local cannabis industry business owners. Couldn’t produce the desired result.
Zepeda has been identified as Afloratino. This puts him in two demographics that were heavily influenced by the criminalization of cannabis prior to the war on drugs and the gradual move to legalize California. He achieved it unharmed until the day of the final legalization, but some of his family spent time behind the bar for cannabis-related crimes, he said.
Still, he helps someone in his background who owns the cannabis business gain access to others, build wealth for generations, and seek more equity within the industry. I believe we can help. It’s about empowerment of women, blacks, browns, and indigenous peoples, “he said. “If we are wealthy, we can amplify our voice and hopefully pass and implement policies that benefit us.”
In order to launch a business, Zepeda needed to find its own workaround for city restrictions on the types of businesses that many low-income entrepreneurs say would help increase diversity.
According to the Long Beach Collective Association, the city currently only allows deliveries from one of 16 licensed clinics, all already spoken and held by black or Latino entrepreneurs. There is nothing. Demographic data collected by the city’s Cannabis Observatory is not self-reported and comprehensive, according to the program manager, who refused to share the data with the Long Beach Business Journal.
Applicants to the city’s social equity program have long asked the city council to revisit its policies regarding non-over-the-counter delivery services. They argue that their low start-up costs make delivery-only retail the most achievable business type for entrepreneurs with limited financial resources.
From navigating the licensing process to procuring real estate in areas zoned for cannabis, the costs associated with starting the types of cannabis business currently allowed in the city, Zepeda first became the city’s social cohort. After joining, it’s a hindrance to moving forward. “If you have the capital, you have the money and you can easily get through the red tape,” he said, and many wealthy investors simply hire consultants. Helping to navigate the process. But for him, starting his own business was “just unachievable.”
The city council has been discussing amendments to the Cannabis Ordinance since last year, adding license terms for delivery-only businesses and shared manufacturing facilities. Adding these license types makes it easier for supporters to enter the industry with hope and underprivileged entrepreneurs. According to industry insiders, the change will be voted first in Congress in early July.
Zepeda has partnered with the Catalyst Cannabis Company, which holds several dispensing licenses in the city, to avoid the barriers posed by the current delivery-only ban. Catalyst CEO Elliot Lewis has funded an equity program to start a business to help Zepeda and other undervalued entrepreneurs. When Zepeda approached him, he said he was ready to take action as soon as possible.
“Honestly, I wasn’t thinking too much,” Lewis said of his decision to move startup costs forward. “I said: Think about how to do that,” he said, with an increasing focus on social and racial equality in the local cannabis industry. “We want to be on the right side of the problem.” Jazmere Johnston, one of Zepeda’s co-founders, helps her build a business from scratch, no matter where her career path is. Said the opportunity to do is advantageous.
Johnston is currently applying for a manufacturing license that he would like to use to manufacture edible cannabis products. “I think it’s a great opportunity to learn,” Johnston said. “Returning profits to our community.
Despite the low barriers to entry, the delivery business is not without its challenges. The President of the Long Beach Group Association currently holds only a handful of longs, mainly due to additional costs associated with delivery services and high levels of competition from licensed and non-licensed companies delivering from neighboring cities to Long Beach. Only beach clinics use licenses for delivery. Adam Hijaji.
Among labor costs, insurance premiums, automobiles, and marketing costs, “it can be very expensive to actually perform a full delivery,” says Hijazi. Still, he said he supports the city’s plan to provide delivery-only licenses to low-income applicants and former cannabis-related convicted applicants in the social fairness program’s demographics. It was.
“It’s a great first step for the city to offer these opportunities to fair applicants,” he said. Increasing long beach-based delivery services is likely to benefit the entire licensed cannabis business, he said. “The more approved deliveries, the more people can participate in the legal market.”
Zepeda admitted that building a customer base large enough to make his business profitable is difficult, which he is willing to undertake. “This is my only way right now, so I’ll do what I can and make it happen,” he said. One day, Zepeda wants to own and operate a pharmacy in his physical store. “Hopefully this is just the beginning,” he said.