Nevada Marijuana Entrepreneur Wants to Blaze Trail for People of Color

May 10, 2018

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Ever wondered what it’s like to work for a marijuana company that is making a positive impact by focusing on hiring minorities and people with disabilities? Introducing GFIVE Cultivation — one of the rare minority-owned cannabis cultivation companies in Las Vegas. My first encounter with co-founder Larry Smith was at Dame Dash’s birthday party Thursday, May 3, 2018. Teaming up with childhood friend Shawn Holman, the two were determined to create a cultivation business that represents their concerns for raising awareness of minorities in the culture.

It was a long work day, and I walked up to a group of stoners outside, hoping they’d accept me. They had not one, not two, but three prerolls in rotation. These things were fire, and the glass tip sealed the deal. There’s just something about inhaling the smoke through a sturdy crutch that I love. I had to know more about the brand! As it turns out, Larry Smith Jr., the lovely gentleman who was before me in rotation, was standing next to his father, Larry Smith Sr., the brains behind the operation.

He shared the story behind GFIVE Cultivation and how his company stands out from the competition. He told me he may be the only African-American that owns his license outright. Hopping on the phone with Larry Sr., he broke it down in full detail.

“First off, in this industry, especially in Vegas, there’s not a lot of minorities that actually own their buildings or their facilities or their licenses,” he said. “Because most African-Americans and Hispanics are targeted for jail time for this, and it’s kind of fucked up to be honest with you,  to walk in a room of 300 people and you’re one of the only people there of color. Where we grew up, we’re harassed for the plant.”

During our smoke sesh, Larry Sr. showed me a clip on Instagram of a deaf woman working in the GFIVE building. I was immediately touched. Seeing a company hire deaf employees was inspiring. With regards to the hiring process at GFIVE, Larry Sr. makes it a point to take in those who are unable to work elsewhere.

“They actually worked in California in the underground market back in the day,” said Larry Sr. “But when they came to apply for jobs here in Vegas, they were getting shut out. I didn’t think that was cool at all. They work hard. They’re human beings just like we are.

“We just felt like we’re underdogs in this company period, and we look at them as underdogs. They’re good people and we just want to give people the opportunity to work. They do everything that you want a good model employee to do.”

The invite-only event took place at DDS33, Dame Dash’s new studio and art gallery in Los Angeles. Citing the former record label executive’s track record of tremendous growth, GFIVE hired Dame Dash to come in and help them consult on the marketing front. The two parties connected roughly two years ago when Larry rented out the SLS hotel for a party in celebration of receiving their state licence. Artists including Tony Yayo, Dru Hill, and the Dogg Pound were in attendance, along with a reunion of Capone and Noreaga, who hadn’t been together in almost 10 years.

Thanks to his good friend Jack Thriller of This is 50, 50 Cent’s hip-hop community website, Larry Sr. was able to pull these rap elites into one location for the night.

This isn’t his first successful business in Nevada, as he also runs Square Management, Center Mass Brass, and Lein. Talking to others in the music industry about investing in the cannabis company, no one seemed to understand the vision of GFIVE except Damon. King Dusko,  Damon’s very own strain, is made here.

“I just want a really high-end brand and I want to be able to take GFIVE and come to LA,” Larry Sr. said. “I want to go to Atlanta. I want to go to Memphis. We want to be able to grow and take it to another level and be one of the premier companies in the country at some point and I felt like Dame could help do that. Sitting next to him, I gained a wealth of knowledge. We’re trying to take it to another level.”

What sets GFIVE apart from other cultivators?

“Not to bash anybody, because there is good cannabis out there, but a lot of those growers are in such a rush to get to market,” Larry Sr. said. “They’re not flushing all the remedies and pesticides. We want to make sure we put the best product out there. We’re still learning, we’re still getting there, so it’s just a matter of time before we really dial in. We have some of the best growers.”

With her help, Larry Sr. is ready to take GFIVE to the next level.

“It’s a medicine for us. No matter what they say about recreational, it’s still a medicine for us,” Larry Sr. said. “The goal for us is to give people good, clean medicine that hopefully can help them live a better quality of life. That’s what the goal is for Shawn and I, that’s what we try to understand. For example, someone has lupus and they’re having a bad day and their level of pain is a 10. If they can get our cannabis and it can make their level of pain a two — and gives them a better quality of life — then that’s what we want to do. That’s the goal for us.”

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