Since its inception, From The Earth, a minority-founded and operated cannabis retailer, has made diversity and inclusion within the industry a top priority. Proving they walk the talk, FTE recently formed a partnership with Fruits of Our Labor, a black-owned business that employs ex-convicts to manufacture a wide range of vaporizers and glass blunts. For both FTE and Fruits of Our Labor, which was founded in Maryland by 22-year-old Alvin Edwards, this relationship is a great way of helping people and communities adversely affected by the war on drugs.
“I’ve been in philanthropy the last 25 years,” said David Moss, chief development officer at FTE. “It’s a big part of my core values. For FTE, we pay forward and give it back. It’s not all about making a buck.”
The partnership came into being after Edwards reached out to Mars Wright, a transgender activist and influencer, who also serves as FTE’s social media marketing director. Edwards, who is part of the trans community, had been following Wright on social media and decided to contact Wright after launching Fruits Of Our Labor.
Wright then brought the idea of a partnership with Fruits Of Our Labor to the FTE team and shortly after, FTE placed Edwards’ first major order. Currently, the products will be stocked in all FTE dispensaries across California, Michigan and Missouri. According to FTE’s Moss, FTE is not taking any equity in Fruits Of Our Labors.
Edwards began his business after saving $5,000 from revenue he generated from a retro video game shop he operated with a friend. With that money, he purchased a small rental building to found and incubate Fruits Of Our Labor, which now has a staff size of 15.
Edwards hopes the partnership with FTE will be a steppingstone for other similar partnerships and have a beneficial effect on struggling black communities.
“I want to show that you can be black and not rely on people and build it yourselves,” said the Baltimore native. “It can really be a big market for this area. Right now, we don’t have real leaders for this. I want something that will be positive and rebuild our communities.”
Presently, medical marijuana is legal in Maryland but not adult use.
Moss said the partnership with Fruits Of Our Labor is the first of its kind for FTE. He said FTE is hoping to ink other relationships similar to this partnership. Right now, for example, FTE is in the final stages of producing a “mini documentary” on a young black man who was arrested for possessing a small amount of marijuana.
“This was a good kid,” said Moss, describing the subject of the project. “He was in culinary school, had dreams of becoming a chef and owning a restaurant. We’re hoping to help him create brands and he participated with royalties and equities. We’re looking to do all sorts of things with social justice and leveling the playing field.”