Photo Credit: Ashley Ysabelle
Inside Los Angeles's First Black Woman-Owned Dispensary, Gorilla Rx Wellness
There are hundreds of cannabis dispensaries scattered around the greater Los Angeles area, but only one is a Black woman-owned dispensary — as of August 25.
Gorilla Rx Wellness makes history and is being led by a mother-daughter duo who both go by the name, Kika, except the mom founder and owner, “Big” Kika is the dreamer behind the Crenshaw dispensary. The grand opening of the wellness shop catered to over 300 Black patrons who traveled to 4233 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90008 to celebrate the community’s big feat.
The overall energy inside of the store is brighter than you could ever imagine. The store’s ceiling holds colorful light fixtures, the shiny cement floors are plastered with bold paint colors, and most importantly, the Black budtenders offer the most welcoming hospitality.
With music bumping as they educate you on their various Black-owned cannabis products, the vast selection proves to be is as diverse as the decorative atmosphere. With slogans like “Crafted on Crenshaw, Legacy In Every Strain, and Black Women Get Us Higher” added to the walls, the Black woman-owned dispensary upholds the community spirit of Black residents who live in South Los Angeles.
The grassroots store promotion was intentional so that “Big” Kika and her daughter could get the word out to their local neighbors, extended friends, and family.
“Making sure that we put [our] community first, we had a street team go out and make sure to put tags on all the doors within a several mile radius of our location so that the locals also knew that we were here for them, as well as going viral on TikTok which was unexpected.”
LA peeps look! A Black woman owned dispensary is here!! Gorilla RX Wellness in south LA!! 🪴🪴🪴 pic.twitter.com/SXvjXpDd54— Cassia Jones (@AwkwardGirlLA) August 25, 2021
The Gorilla RX Wellness storefront amassed virality not only on TikTok but Twitter as well, with hundreds of thousands of people supporting the new cannabis brand via social media. The global reach of the Crenshaw cannabis and wellness goods store has been vast as the owner has identified Black patrons being from New Orleans, New York, and even Holland, especially since the store is so close to the Los Angeles International Airport.
Even Seth Rogen gave the brand a shoutout after he was referenced in the Tweet, and he confirmed his own cannabis products are in the store too.
“I think everyone was just rooting for us. You could kind of feel that energy just walking through the door,” daughter of the owner, Kika adds.
“Big” Kika has a grand vision for the Gorilla Rx Wellness brand to provide more avenues for Black locals in Crenshaw to find employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. Ultimately, she wants the Black woman-owned dispensary to become a successful formula for other Black opportunists to take advantage of the lucrative industry that is the world of cannabis.
She is aiming to transform how the legalization of weed can become a huge opportunity for the Black community in terms of how the recreational herbal remedy has criminalized many Black individuals in the past, specifically in Los Angeles.
“The war on Black people that we witness as a mother and the mamas, that representation is critical. We often hear of the criminalization and those that were locked up, but that was our sons and our daughters, our brothers and sisters, and we cared for [our] children.”
In 2010, before marijuana-use was made legal (which was legalized in 2016) and has led to the incarceration of thousands of Black people in the US that are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be prosecuted for carrying the recreational drug.
“Big” Kika adds, “so, being able to say, listen, this is a way to repair that damage and this is the way to create generational wealth, not only for my own family, but for the members of the community to really have this flexibility and our economic growth that comes from the revenue. This is a trillion-dollar industry.”
“Big” Kika continues: “It was so important for us to not forget the blood that was shed and the lives that were lost, the lives that were still incarcerated and have this redemption to see when these doors open, something that sparkles in the community, that is representative. We call this the house that the people built because so many people came through to ensure that we kept these doors open. It took us 3 years before we got our licensing, we had to file a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles. For us to be able to have that sort of control on the licensing is critical when we only represent 3% of all the licenses across this nation.”
The legacy of the Gorilla RX Wellness brand is going to stretch farther than its unique cannabis products. “Big” Kika is building out her dream store after embarking in an over decade-long career in the health and wellness space with her first chlorophyll nutrient beverage that was in Whole Foods stores. The founder always saw the necessity for more health-conscious natural products in major commercial fronts and is looking to do the same with other Black-owned products.
“We intend on having the largest selection of Black-owned brands and social equity brands on ourselves, because we create these opportunities for these brands to flourish and have proof of concept, which is critical because we just can’t go down the street and get on Stiiizy’s shelves. So, to create this opportunity for these Black-owned brands can show how successful they would be if they had the opportunity to be highlighted in a store, if they had the marketing dollars and the budtenders who will talk [about their products] and market them. We’re creating that opportunity and incubating these brands. We’ve hired 20 folks in our community. We look at growing that number to 60 to 80.’
Mother-daughter duo, “Big” Kika and Kika are innovating the cannabis industry by pushing for inclusivity and equity on all fronts. The Crenshaw natives are transforming the narrative around recreational marijuana usage and are showing how the Black community can shift people’s world-views. Through a wide variety of cannabis products, wellness culture, and the community spirit of South Central Los Angeles.
To learn more about the Black woman-owned dispensary, visit the website: gorillarxwellness.com.