The timing is perfect for a cross-cultural cannabis company, Michael Wilson said Tuesday, announcing the 4/20 launch of Franklin’s Stash House, a hemp blunt maker headquartered near the Crossroads.
“It’s a lifestyle brand that represents a segment of the culture that doesn’t get enough attention, trying to capture our creative energy in a cool form that everybody likes,” said serial entrepreneur Wilson, who co-founded the company with a longtime friend from Kansas City’s hip hop scene. “So rather than selling people on the health and wellness benefits of hemp, it’s more like, ‘Hey, if you like it, smoke it.’ And we hope that everybody just gets positive vibes from us and really enjoys being part of the brand.”
Franklin’s Stash House offers 0.3 percent THC hemp blunts, vapes and flower with full-spectrum products in select shops in Raytown, Kansas City and Independence — with a retail expansion expected soon. Click here to see current locations.
Wilson’s co-founder at Franklin’s Stash House, who wishes to remain silent, is the 50-percent Black-owned business’s primary connection to the culture.
“My business partner has spent a lifetime building a reputation as one of the most respected members of his community — and there is an immense tangible value to that,” Wilson said. “He brings a level of wisdom and credibility to this company that’s unmatched in the market.”
Wilson — who also operates a line of CBD products under the True State brand — has been quietly setting the foundations for the business for the past six months, he said.
“Halfway into a blunt, I asked myself, ‘What’s something that is universally loved across races and across socioeconomic groups?’ … Then all of a sudden … Bam! Money and weed,” Wilson said Tuesday during an AMA on Instagram.
Click here to follow Franklin’s Stash House on Instagram.
The extended explanation is just as organic, he told Startland News.
Last year, Wilson was approached by another serial entrepreneur, Babir Sultan, president and CEO of Fav Trip, who was carrying a brand of hemp products in his store and encouraged Wilson to come up with a competitive product.
“Babir was the first person to say, ‘Hey, I think there’s an opportunity for you here. Do you want to come in and check this out?’” Wilson said.
Franklin’s Stash House bloomed from there, but not before Wilson got his start in the cannabis industry as part of an application writing team for Greenlight Dispensary, the biggest cannabis operation in the state.
“That gave me a really good education on the corporate side of cannabis,” Wilson said. “You have to take a step back and look at the market from a multi-state perspective, to see what’s happening from the federal level down.”
“We’re in a prohibition era of cannabis that’s about to rapidly change into a post-prohibition era,” he continued. “It’s like what we saw in the early 1900s with alcohol, but on a much larger scale. Missouri, in the grand scheme of all the other states within a 10-hour drive of us, is coming online as one of the best for patients rights, for at-home growers, for cultivation facilities.”
Wilson pointed to tax revenue reported in Illinois, where marijuana sales topped $1 billion in 2020 — and notched $205 million in related taxes in the first year of legal sales.
“I look at that and say, ‘We’ve got budget shortfalls, people out of work’ … You know, the impact is not just on hiring dispensary workers. It’s not just about brands like ours. It’s the construction companies, the suppliers and the growers,” he said. “Missouri is positioning itself in a really good place. And it’s probably going to become a billion-dollar-plus-a-year market too.”
It’s OK to be resistant to cannabis, Wilson said — just don’t be surprised when the door closes on your chance to get in the game.
“It really is fascinating to watch the economic opportunity available from being involved directly in the business and ancillary in the business,” he said. “I hear from a lot of people who are like ‘Well, it’s still federally illegal, so I’m not getting into it.’ That’s fine. … But in communities where it is legal, the opportunity is there for anyone — people like us, the big guys, members of minority communities.”
“If you’re in a state where the government is fighting over small little rules and regulations — like how many plants a home grower can have — you’re really missing the big picture,” Wilson continued. “There are so many opportunities to just get in the door and be a part of something that is so big. If everyone could see where this is going, it would become a whole different conversation.”
For Franklin’s Stash House, Wilson and his partner have found a niche in “building a brand that represents a group of people and an energy that’s about creating incredible products and experiences with the most affordable pricing,” he said, noting the five-person team already working on the just-announced project.
“And we’re passionate about being authentic,” Wilson added. “On the back end, we’re having plenty of conversations about everything from race and social equality to justice reform in a very open and fluid way. It’s a very cool approach that will keep us working together on some really awesome things.”