The Cannabis Business Office's Social Equity Licensee Highlight series dives into the stories of social equity licensees currently operating in the cannabis space. By exploring the unique backgrounds, challenges, and opportunities of these owners, our case studies serve as unique window into the cannabis industry and a way for businesses to learn from one another.
Growzillas5280 provides high-quality cannabis products, giving their clients prompt and respectful service. The business was founded by Rayshawne Thomas, who has been active in the industry for over a decade and has held a passion for agriculture since a young age.
With both the product and industry knowledge and experience, Growzillas5280 has focused the business on ensuring that each customer feels respected and that they have been treated fairly. As a social equity licensed business, social equity and diversity is at the forefront of their business model and aims to keep their standard high around equity for all.
What sparked your interest in the cannabis industry?
After seeing how such a beautiful plan could cause so much division that would formulate the “War on Drugs”, I immediately wanted to know more about the history of cannabis, where it originated, and how it’s grown. I also personally saw the industry benefit, while also how it impacted my community from the War on Drugs. And finally, noticing that there were not many people that looked like myself in the industry, I wanted to see change.
How will your work impact the community?
My work will impact the community by inspiring other young people of color to believe they have a place in agriculture. However, through the business, we are fighting for our communities to have more equity, resources, and funding.
We’re looking to make an impact on the communities labeled as “food deserts” by implementing ourselves in these neighborhoods, which are typically people of color and heavily impacted by the War on Drugs. Assisting with community gardening, farmers markets, and sponsoring local events are our goals.
Is there anything interesting about your backstory that you’d like to share?
Growing up in a neighborhood that was heavily impacted by the War on Drugs, seeing multiple arrests, and being intimidated by the authorities were a few things that were normal. Agriculture was my way to escape everything that was going on around me. I started cultivating vegetables at a young age with my grandmother, so my passion for plants and understanding came early on.
Being so attached to a plant that would give us court citations and sometimes even a trip downtown, I knew then I wanted to know more about cannabis and why a plant could cause so much division. I took it upon myself to study agriculture, soil science, and cannabis.
Please share something unique about your company.
My company is unique for the fact we are a small family-run farm that operates with social equity being the number one focus in our mission statement. We believe in equality for all, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Growzillas5280 - named after my fearless, big-thinking approach to life and my love of the old Godzilla TV show - operates out of Moffat, a small and cannabis-friendly Colorado town.
What challenges do you face as a small business and social equity licensee?
As a social equity small business, we continuously face challenges getting access to capital, creating partnerships, and overall creating a sense of belonging in this industry. We also see a lack of willingness to participate in social equity efforts among some of the major players, which can be a bit intimidating.
What would you change about the Colorado cannabis industry if you could?
I would like to see more BIPOC be a part of cannabis, as well as create more spaces that allow social equity licensees to operate. Social equity should not just be a delivery target - this is something that POC have been waiting to participate in, but we still lack the funding, technical assistance, and support to make it happen on a larger scale. This has been a huge challenge. A Social Equity Trust Fund would be something I would like to see implemented for licensees to help them succeed.
Want your business to be featured in a monthly highlight? If you are an operational social equity licensed cannabis business, apply to be a part of our Social Equity Licensee Highlight series. To be considered for upcoming highlights, please complete our form. The next two questions are screening questions. Additional questions will appear if you are eligible.