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By Jason Lewis
Over the last several years, cannabis dispensaries have been popping up all over Los Angeles. As of December of 2020, there were 184 licensed retailers in the city, according to the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation. Some of those dispensaries are in Black communities, but most do not have Black ownership, and most owners of dispensaries take money from local Black communities back to their own neighborhoods where they are from.
Kika Keith, who grew up in and still resides in the Crenshaw District, has been fighting for inclusion since the city of Los Angeles introduced the idea of a social equity program for cannabis businesses in 2017. Her monumental efforts have led to the opening of Gorilla Rx on Crenshaw Boulevard, just south of Stocker Street. The location is next door to Maverick’s Flat.
Cannabis dispensaries are extremely profitable businesses, which is why so many business owners from outside Black communities have opened locations in Black communities. But Keith didn’t open this business solely to enrich herself.
“This is an example of community reinvestment,” she said. “That’s how we intend on spending our profits. It’s not for my own personal generational wealth. If I don’t make sure that the wealth and health of my community grows and ascends at the same time that I do, that would be a problem for me and who I come from.”
Many cannabis dispensaries in Black communities do