As the need for equity and expungement throughout the cannabis industry becomes more evident in today’s legal market, brands are opting out of waiting around for the government to make a change and instead creating their own.
A Golden State is one such brand, continuing to dedicate their platform to causes they believe in. Their latest product release, Open Your Heart, is a curated set designed specifically to benefit underprivileged women suffering from breast cancer.
The change the industry still desperately needs to see happen needs to begin in the hands of the operators, and initiatives like this reinstill that idea and hope for a better, more inclusive future in cannabis.
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A Golden State has a history of using their position in the cannabis industry to provide support to those who’ve been overlooked or kept out of the legal market.
“We’re one of the few commercially-scaled, minority-owned cannabis companies in the country,” said Nishant Reddy, co-founder of A Golden State.
“We’re dedicated to producing one of a kind, high-quality cannabis, but it’s equally important that we use our resources to have a positive impact on social justice and sustainability.”
Last year they partnered with the ACLU to uplift POC operators who’ve helped build the cannabis industry from the ground up, donating all of the product proceeds back to the organization.
This special set for October, which includes eighths of flower and a cannabis-infused candle, was conceived with giving back in mind once again. All of the Open Your Heart proceeds will go directly to the Shades of Pink Foundation, which provides financial support to breast cancer patients and survivors alike.
“My business partner Simone got into cannabis because his mother was suffering from breast cancer, and he saw medical cannabis soothe a lot of her pain and discomfort. This cause is near and dear to myself and my co-founders,” Reddy told The Bluntness.
“As for Shades of Pink, we wanted to find an organization that isn’t on everyone’s radar. These huge charitable organizations are incredible, but they have so much support already. So many others are out there doing spectacular work that not everyone is familiar with – we try and help them change that.”
Shades of Pink is unique to other breast cancer organizations in that it specifically targets underprivileged women suffering from financial hardship due to outrageous medical expenses – the same demographic who’ve been disproportionately targeted by anti-cannabis laws.
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In general, women are often neglected by the country’s healthcare system: boxed out of being able to make decisions that affect them personally.
“Women’s health needs a lot more attention, awareness, and open-mindedness. As much as I want to say that cannabis is at the forefront of this, there are many more pressing issues,” Reddy said.
“But, cannabis does help in a lot of ways: with all types of cancer, menstrual pain, sleep, anxiety – all of these things are part of the treatment process.”
However, women (or anyone) don’t have to be in severe pain or discomfort to utilize the benefits of cannabis.
“It’s perfectly normal for a mom that’s stressed out to pour a glass of wine at the end of the day. Well, cannabis products can act as the same relief, without a lot of the negatives attached to alcohol: empty calories, sugar, hangover, its depressant effects,” Reddy said.
“Cannabis is none of those things. As we mature as an industry, more women are able to find synergies in terms of making cannabis work for them.”
It isn’t just the societal stigma against cannabis that has kept many women from fully embracing the power of the plant and how it can help them live a better life. Even within the industry, the toxic “bro” culture that persists has never been inviting to female operators or consumers.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that cannabis is a ‘black’ market that was transitioning into medical, and then a continued evolution into a fully legal recognized adult-use market,” Reddy said.
“You have this cultural transfer from those who have been part of the industry from legacy days, and with that comes an antiquated way of thinking. The reality is that those operators were predominantly men, and cannabis still tends to have that ‘tough’ black market attitude.”
Although this attitude still persists in the legal industry today, Reddy is confident that the changing of the guards is just beginning, and is only going to grow stronger and more powerful.
“If we had a crystal ball and could look at this industry twenty years down the line, it’s going to look totally different. I think women are going to be crushing it in this industry,” Reddy said.
“The trend is here, and I think it’s here to stay. It’s a slow process of shifting the way people think about things, and I think a lot of men are threatened and intimidated. They’re not always going to be open-minded to a shift in culture. But, there are founders like myself who don’t think that way. We welcome strong, career-oriented women. Most of the management in our companies is female, and our products are both female-focused and female-friendly.”
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Reddy isn’t wrong about the shift in the industry. From a stance of gender, race, and class, cannabis prohibition has always targeted those not in power, and the legal market is beginning to realize that we cannot move forward without righting these wrongs.
However, it’s a slow-moving process that isn’t going to speed up any time soon – unless more brands like A Golden State get involved and start pushing things forward on their own time.
“I think it’s easy for legislators to check the box for their votes and throw out some half-baked suggestion, like, ‘Let’s do social equity licenses.’ But, no one takes the time to figure out how the program will actually work,” Reddy said.
“How will these companies actually be successful? How will we actually invest dollars into these communities who’ve been unfairly targeted for years and years? We all know how hard it is to get bureaucrats to see anything from start to finish. With that in mind, a lot of this falls on the private sector. They have the resources to see things through.”
It’s this sentiment that drove Reddy and his co-founders to fully dedicate A Golden State as a brand that brings forth true change in the industry: by partnering with organizations in need, and ultimately giving their resources back to the loyal cannabis community.
Those in the industry who aren’t bound by governmental hoops and leaps are able to make these changes on the ground: they just have to make that decision.
“We’re not better or smarter than anyone else – we’ve simply made the decision that these things are equally as important to us as profit and high-quality cannabis,” Reddy said.
“A lot of this is top of mind to us because it is influenced by our own personal experiences growing up in this country. I’ve been racially profiled by the police and unfairly arrested. It’s personal, and we’re dedicated to not ignoring the people who are generally ignored.”
People in cannabis are beginning to discuss these issues much more openly than ever before, and this sort of attention-to-detail must continue in order to ensure we’re supporting an industry we truly believe in: one that exists because of the hard work, sacrifice, and love of the cannabis community throughout the decades.
When adult-use cannabis was first beginning to legalize across the nation, those positions were auctioned away to the highest (and often whitest) bidders – people with fat pockets, but no experience in how the industry actually operates.
Brands like A Golden State are aiming to redistribute this power back into the hands of those who’ve truly earned their spot in the game.
“Charitable giving and having a positive social impact is core to the way we feel about how we should conduct our business,” Reddy said.
“We’re not just obsessed about profit margins, because social impact is what makes us more proud at the end of the day. Right now, giving 100% of these proceeds to Shades of Pink is a no-brainer for us, and it won’t shift our success. It’s only going to enhance who we are as individuals, and how the industry and consumers view us.”
A Golden State is dedicated to making responsible choices, whether that be through helping communities in need, supporting organizations, or streamlining sustainable practices throughout their operation to protect our environment.
“It costs us money to be carbon neutral, but climate change couldn’t be more important than it is today, and we made the simple choice to fall on the right side of this,” Reddy said.
“This is all part of that shift in attitude. Legacy cultivators might not have cared about this stuff as much in the past. You had outdoor grow operations full of litter...none of this was top of mind. But time allows the best operators, the ones doing real good, to be rewarded, and to ultimately stick around.”
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