The rap star and serial entpreneur opens us about his new business and the biggest growth segment in the industry.
13 min read
Brought to you by Marijuana Retail Report
Rapper B-Real from the legendary hip-hop group Cypress Hill is no stranger to being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry. He currently runs a vast and diversified empire including a glass accessory company called Phuncky Feel Tips, his media company www.BReal.tv, his flower and concentrate line under Dr. Greenthumb Farms, and now he is opening a full dispensary as a flagship for his products in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. Marijuana Retail Report sat down with B-Real to get an idea of how navigating the newly recreational industry in California has been as a brand new retailer and what he see’s as the future of cannabis. These are some excerpts from the interview.
Marijuana Retail Report: Why don’t you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
B-Real: Well my name’s B-Real and I originally come from a hip-hop band called Cypress Hill. We’ve been making music for about 27 years and actually, yesterday is the 27 year anniversary of our first album. On that album, we were one the first if not the first in hip-hop to pretty much champion the cannabis cause within our music. We were trying to educate people little by little, not just release songs about getting high. Later on, we would put out information that we would learn from Jack Herer himself, and try to get the legalization movement going through our music. I mean, it existed, but there was really no one going heavy for it. It’s not like it was an intention, it just sort of happened, because we were passionate about it. We just felt great to be able to contribute to the cause.
In the middle of that, on one of the albums, I came up with a song called Dr. Greenthumb, and it was pretty much an ode of my boys and myself as a small cultivation team. We weren’t cultivating a lot, because at that time we were cultivating in garages and stuff like that. We didn’t have open space like our brothers up north where they can go up into the valleys and the forest and just go crazy. We had to do it in bedrooms and garages and stuff like that, so I made this song called Dr. Greenthumb to tribute my team, and it became an alter ego for myself. I did stuff based on it through different events and whatnot, and eventually, when Prop 215 came to California, I started to create a brand within that character. In other words, starting to try to put out things under that Dr. Greenthumb name, and ever since then, we just tried to brand that name and the cannabis culture aside from Cypress Hill and aside from our music.
First I started with some edibles with this guy names Chris Bliss, and we put out these oatmeal style bar edibles. We wanted to put out something healthy. Eventually, we got into what we were initially good at which was the flower side of cannabis and then concentrates, so from that time to now we’ve developed a few different strains under our Greenthumb Farms brand. While we were doing that, as a cannabis connoisseur, I smoke joints. I don’t necessarily smoke too many bongs anymore and any other way of smoking cannabis. While I was on a trip to Europe. We were in Amsterdam, and we were smoking out, and I just thought to myself, how come no one has come up with a glass tip for a filter, so we put out these glass tips called Phuncky Feel Tips. I started them as Cypress Hill Phuncky Feel Tips, but slowly I separated them from the Greenthumb and Cypress Hill brand and made them their own brand. Because we had been a part of the smoke culture for such a long time, that we just wanted to have these different brands, and be in that market, because we were so passionate about it, and we fought so hard for it. Our brands stood out to people, and people would always ask us, “Where can we get your brand? Where can we find it.” from our cannabis to our concentrates, to the Phuncky Feel Tips. So, to finally actually have a landing place like our new dispensary, Dr. Greenthumb’s for all of our products, it’s a great opportunity. We’re definitely excited because sometimes when you have these products, they don’t hit all the retail shops that people normally go to. They wouldn’t necessarily see our brands in there, so to finally have our own brand where they can come get it exclusively, again we’re excited, man. It took a lot of time from the early 90s to now to get all this in place.
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Marijuana Retail Report: Speaking of your new dispensary, Dr. Greenthumb’s, what went into the process of starting the shop.
B-Real: I was originally supposed to open up a location in Santa Ana with a former partner, but it didn’t work out due to creative differences along with several other things. So I shut that plan down, and people would ask me for two, three years, “What happened to Santa Ana? Where’s Santa Ana?” I would just respond by saying, “Well, the shop didn’t work out, but I’m focusing on building the brand and building quality products around the brand, and when it’s time, and the right situation, I will open a store. I don’t know if it will be Santa Ana or any other city, but it is definitely a part of the goal.” Sometimes, I think last year, I had a meeting with a couple of guys that I met through my good friend Berner who’s part of the Cookies brand. He introduced me to these guys who wanted to do a partnership with me by opening a Dr. Greenthumb’s in Sylmar. I thought Sylmar was great, because it’s our backyard, pretty much where we stared all of our get down in terms of cultivation here in San Fernando Valley, so it just made sense.
So next, we all started just got our heads together and talked about creating a very nice space that people feel safe, and feel comfortable, and is aesthetically is pleasing to the eye. Although we will have affordable strains there, we wanted it to look high end and have a good energy, so that when people come, they’re gonna have an experience of not just getting in line for cannabis and then rolling out. It’s something that we thought about for a number of years in terms of my close team, but then when we got with our new partners for the spot, it was just something where we ended up landing on all the same ideas. We all wanted the same thing. We all had the same vision. Once we put the partnership together, it was go-time.
We could have opened up a month ago. We actually had this place ready to be opened up a month ago, but I was scheduled to be on tour, and I wouldn’t have been around for the opening, so we pushed it to August 15th because that would have been a day off for me on the tour. I would have come home to do the grand opening, but the tour was canceled due to unforeseen things so it gave me extra time to prepare for the opening, and let all my influencer friends know that they’re invited. Hopefully, not hopefully, I know we’re gonna have a big opening day. We are just looking forward to Wednesday.
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Marijuana Retail Report: How has navigating the licensing process been for you, and do you feel that Cat Packer (the Executive Director and General Manager of the Department of Cannabis Regulation in Los Angeles) is doing a good job here in your hometown?
B-Real: Yeah, there’s a lot of people that love Cat Packer, because for some she expedited those licenses because everybody was in compliance. The thing about the city and state governments is they’re known to drag their asses on things and drag things out, and that ends up costing a small business owner trying to get into this world a fortune. People can be waiting on the licenses for a year or two years, paying their leases on the buildings that they’re holding that they can’t even do a day of business in ’til they get those proper licenses and whatnot. Fortunately, she’s been one that’s on it. She’s not making people wait like two, three years for these things. If they got their business in order, and their paperwork in order, she’s making it go through. There’s a lot of shops now that are open, doing great business, and they’re legit, and that’s all thanks to her, so I think she’s doing a great job. As far as our paperwork goes, this was being done all while I was out on tour. My partners definitely handled that aspect of it, so that I wouldn’t have to have that headache upon returning. It’s been a team effort, and I gotta say thanks to my team for being on it, and thanks to Cat Packer for being on it, because without her being on it, no one could be in the positions that they’re in if they have their licenses all in place. It’s all up to her pretty much.
Marijuana Retail Report: Being someone that’s been in the industry for as long as you have, and in many different parts as you are, what do you see as the largest growing consumer trend in cannabis right now, and what do you see is the future of the industry?
B-Real: It’s hard to say what the future is because it’s always evolving, but I do know that people more and more are crossing over to the concentrates. I mean there’s still flower smokers like myself. I’ll always be a flower smoker, and I like the concentrates and all that stuff, but I’m more of a flower smoker. But today’s youth, those that may be in their early 20s or whatever, they’re more into doing the dabs and other people that aren’t necessarily, haven’t graduated into the dabs, they’re into the vape pens, because it’s a little bit more discrete. If you smoke a joint, that shit is like a smoke signal across the world, but when you smoke a vape pen, it’s a little bit more discrete. It’s less smoke, but it gives you the effect needed. So I see that the vapes pens are gonna be huge. I mean, they’re huge now, but I think that’s something that’s gonna continue to grow. Also definitely CBD use. I think CBD use now that people are learning more about it and what the possibilities are, and how it’s helped a lot of people. More and more, you hear these stories of how CBD is saving peoples’ lives. So, I think the CBD usage is definitely gonna go up. Sort of like, I think it will become a new vitamin.
Marijuana Retail Report: What’s next for you?
B-Real: What’s next for me, that’s a hard one. My plate’s full. The next thing coming is i’m gonna be hosting a cannabis-related show on Viceland that will be announced later this month. So that’s something new on my plate, but realistically, even though I’ve juggled a lot of things in terms of music, cannabis, and social media platform with Breal TV and all that stuff, I try to stay within the lines of what I know that I can do. I try not to overstretch into stuff that is not necessarily me. So I try to keep it within the circle of the things that I know that I can accomplish. If there’s a challenge out there that may be outside of what it is I do, and what I’m good at, and what I’m passionate about, yeah sure sometimes I’ll take a challenge like this Viceland thing. I’m not really like someone who wanted to do t.v. or movies or stuff like that. It wasn’t my aim, as my aim was always music. When the cannabis industry came along, that was a part of my passion, so it was sort of just like automatic thing that I could get into, because it was a part of my passion but t.v. and movies wasn’t. I saw this as a challenge. I’ve done a couple things here and there, but I’ve never dedicated a t.v. show and doing a full-blown series and taking it serious and stuff like that, so that’s something new for me that I’m taking on. In terms of like something I’m doing next, I don’t know man. It’s hard to say, because you gotta stay focused on the things that you have on your plate now which is my music with Prophets of Rage, and Cypress Hill, and my solo stuff, the dispensaries, and the platforms, and all that stuff. It’s hard taking time away from any of that, but I don’t know. I just always go by whatever comes to me, and I feel it, I’ll try it.