It isn’t enough to be first, Ronald Rice said, announcing Franklin’s Stash House’s entry into Greenlight stores — a move that sees the Kansas City cannabis company become the first Black-owned brand sold at a dispensary in the state.
“While this deal represents a big milestone in the evolution of Missouri’s cannabis industry, the legacy of this moment depends on what we do from here,” said Rice, co-founder of Franklin’s and a longtime music producer and DJ. “It’s time for our team to put in the work and show the market and the culture what we are about.”
Greenlight is the largest dispensary operator in Missouri with more than 15 Show Me State stores, and three locations in Arkansas. Franklin’s line of hemp blunts and high-terpene hemp flower are now available at five select Greenlight stores with more expected.
Click here for a list of Greenlight locations and other stash houses now stocking Franklin’s.
The Kansas City brand — which launched April 20 — prides itself on 0.3 percent THC hemp blunts, vapes and flower with full-spectrum products designed for patients who seek the benefits of cannabis, without the high, the company said.
Click here to read more about Franklin’s Stash House’s debut.
“[Our] team is talented, dedicated, experienced and hungry,” Rice told Startland News. “We’re on our game. We’re ready. As long as we continue to operate with the speed and creativity we have been, Franklin’s is a slam dunk. I will say one thing we know to be true working on this deal, Greenlight is really who they say they are: ‘cannabis with culture.’ That should be recognized and applauded.”
Greenlight providing Franklin’s with the opportunity to showcase its brand to such a large consumer audience is akin to Interscope’s distribution and publishing deal with Death Row Records in 1992, he added, drawing on his background in the music industry for inspiration.
“At the time, some bright minds at Interscope saw the opportunity to take a hot sound and work to build the foundation for what would later become a cultural movement,” Rice said, teasing parallels to changing trends in the cannabis space. “While no one could have predicted the level of success artists like Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Tupac would go on to achieve, Interscope had the clarity to shine the spotlight on the right artists at the right time. Without the Interscope connection between the culture and the masses, hip-hop would never have been the same.”
And hip-hop is where the seeds of Franklin’s were planted, said Michael Wilson, Rice’s co-founder at the cannabis brand and the serial entrepreneur behind the hemp brand True State and luxury watch company Niall.
The business — a 50/50 equity partnership between Rice and Wilson — is, in many ways, a credit to lessons learned through their 20-year relationship, Wilson explained, noting the duo previously managed the local rapper KC Young Boss, who is featured in a trailer video for Franklin’s and his single “Kush Kingdom.”
Watch the “Kush Kingdom” video below, then keep scrolling.
“[Rice] gave me a very privileged introduction into the Black community. He introduced me to Black culture, hip hop culture in my early 20s,” Wilson told Startland News in April. “We kind of fell out of touch through the years, but we came back together for Franklin’s Stash House. It’s an opportunity with the medical marijuna market really turning on to truly create a co-owned, Black-white business in the cannabis space.”
Together, the brand obsesses over the fine details — from building relationships with Missouri hemp farmers to supply the freshest hemp possible, to inventing and manufacturing Franklin’s own packaging, to innovating the efficiency and safety of blunt production, he continued.
“As an independent cannabis brand, Franklin’s is here to make a statement about what is possible,” Wilson said.
The Greenlight distribution deal emphasizes the potential for innovation in the industry and an opportunity to experience “craft-cannabis,” he explained, noting Franklin’s high-terpene hemp flower is intended to be mixed and blended with Greenlight marijuana flower.
“The power of mixing CBD and THC is undeniable,” added Angela Harmon, director of operations for Franklin’s, which is headquartered near the Crossroads. “Blending hemp (CBD) with marijuana (THC) is an excellent experience and brings with it a variety of medicinal benefits that can be felt, smelled and tasted.”
Another key ingredient: authenticity.
“At Franklin’s, we live by a code,” said Rice, who sees himself as the coach to Franklin’s team of players. “We move as one and speak as one. We are open minded and respect one another. We communicate with intent and build this company with a shared set of values. We chase a common goal and lift each other up in our pursuit.
“We believe in putting our time, energy and money back into our community. We believe in providing opportunities and acting as conduits to anyone who seeks to build wealth for their family. We listen to consumers and put our collective mind, heart and soul into everything we create,” he continued. “It’s clear that consumers want to buy quality products backed by an authentic brand.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation works to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity.