PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – It’s coined the very first hip-hop themed dispensary in the world. But for owners of the northeast Portland pot shop Green Hop, the meaning behind the theme is much more than just music.
As the record player turns at Green Hop, owners K.C. Crews and Nicole Kennedy said it’s more than just music. They said it’s also a symbol that the marijuana industry in Portland is turning over a new leaf, too.
“We noticed there wasn’t a lot of people of color in the cannabis industry, so opportunity opened up, so we wanted to take a leap of faith,” said Crews. “We also wanted to have some type of theme behind it.”
That theme is hip-hop.
“It’s just showing that cannabis and hip-hop is actually a lifestyle and it’s not just separate, it’s actually integrated together,” said Kennedy.
Their message is a simple one. It pays homage to a culture Crews and Kennedy feel pushed the legalization of pot forward.
“So, we want to kind of remind people, if it wasn’t for hip-hop, we don’t think cannabis would be legal,” said Crews.
They remind people by the graffiti art on the walls, to the names of the products on the shelves, and of course, the music.
“So, you have artists like Tupac, artists like Snoop Dog, you got Redman, Method Man, who unapologetically rapped about it,” said Crews.
But as clear as Crews and Kennedy are about their message, they’re just as clear that it’s not always easy.
“We really represent Portland in a sense of really being an independent mom and pop, like literally, we’re mom and pop, we’re a mom and pop shop,” said Crews.
Just recently, the City of Portland made it easier for Green Hop and other mom and pop marijuana shops like them, when the city council approved its Social Equity Program.
“It just creates more economic opportunity in general,” said City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.
Specifically, Eudaly said it lowers licensing and other fees for marijuana-related businesses. It’s something Crews and Kennedy have been able to benefit from immediately.
“It’s definitely needed because we are not privy to capital,” said Crews. “We basically had to boot strap everything, so capital is extremely important to be able to survive in this saturated market.”
Commissioner Eudaly said the program does something else as well.
“It’s pretty undeniable that our drug laws have targeted the minority communities,” said Eudaly.
It also provides financial incentives for small companies who partly own or employ a percentage of people previously convicted of marijuana-related crimes.
“I think about all of the people that look like me that are in prison right now,” said Crews.
The owners of Green Hop said they’re still looking to see if their shop meets that requirement, but it’s one they’re thrilled to see the city offer.
“Here we’re in a legalized state and we’re able to benefit off of the legalization of it, but I constantly think about those people that are, you know, sitting in jail, that aren’t able to benefit off, and literally sitting in prison right now as we speak and that’s heartbreaking,” said Crews.
Crews and Kennedy said as they move forward with their new business, they’ll continue to feel the pressure to be successful.
“Because we’re representing them as well,” said Crews.
Crews said they’re representing everyone who helped turn the tables in the past, as well as everyone who continues to turn them in the future.
“If it wasn’t for hip-hop, we wouldn’t be here,” said Crews.
For more information on city’s Social Equity Program, click here.
Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.