This past year has been a gratifying one for Kika Keith, co-founder of the Social Equity Owners and Workers Association (SEOWA), and most recently, owner of Gorilla Rx Wellness Co., the first dispensary in Los Angeles owned by a Black woman.
You may recognize Keith from Uprooted, Weedmaps’ 2020 docu-series highlighting California’s long and complex road to cannabis legalization. In episode three of the series, she discussed the lack of equitable cannabis regulations when it came to licensing, particularly for people of color. The constant rule changes, high taxes, and underdeveloped social equity programs have made it extremely difficult for Black and brown Californians to succeed in the cannabis industry, continuing the history of systemic racism tied to prohibition.
Like many other applicants in Los Angeles’ Social Equity Program, Keith struggled to obtain a license for her dispensary for three years. During this waiting period, the retail properties that applicants were forced to secure in order to apply sat unoccupied. At the time of filming Uprooted, Keith’s storefront on Crenshaw Boulevard had been unused for nearly two years as a result of this botched application process. “We had to end up filing a lawsuit through [SEOWA] and ended up settling