Duo's higher calling: Destigmatizing marijuana
New York State's cannabis market is on the way, but there are still a lot of questions about how it will work. As that debate plays out in Albany, a pair of Central New York entrepreneurs are on a mission to break down stereotypes surrounding the drug and ease residents into the idea of having "canna-business" in their neighborhoods.
They say that, while smoking marijuana has become legal in the state of New York, that’s only a fraction of the battle.
“Since March, we've been kind of sitting down and talking about some ideas and we wanted to do something new,” said Byron Cage.
Cage is working on vibrate clothing in support of legal cannabis with his business and brand, "The Higher Calling." It's a means of supporting the dream of a sales and consumption lounge in the coming years.
Before the hats and tees, as legislation came about, Cage said there was a deeper drive.
“It's much more about just having a lounge, owning a club, or making a bunch of money because that all remains to be seen, but we want to bring awareness,” said Cage. “We want to bring information about what the legislation is going to mean for women, minorities, disabled veterans, how we can benefit, as we've been, you know, ostracized, stigmatized in the past. And just around the substance itself.”
The brand is set on destigmatizing, and Cage says he has plans to rally around it at Syracuse's inner harbor in early October.
“What we're gonna have out here is we're gonna have vendors, we're gonna have information on the inside, we're working with the growers and processors association in New York. So some of our good buddies are going to be here, businesses from all over the state,” said Cage.
Quickly building a professional network ahead of the New York state cannabis market is the goal, said Cage.
“We're happy to be doing what we're doing, we know it's not, it might not be popular right now, but it's coming,” Cage added. “And when it does, we will be that tier; the bar.”
Alongside Cage and The Higher Calling is real estate agent and entrepreneur Mike Golden.
"I've always been a fan of entrepreneurship, especially being a minority as well,” Golden noted. “I think it's something that we should always have our focus on and always try to support other Black-owned businesses as well.”
A company like The Higher Calling is about more than the threads, but destroying stereotypes.
“You see a Black guy smoking weed, he's like a thug or whatever the case may be,” Golden said. “Though he might just be a professional or real estate agent or own a business, just like you.”
The duo says they are in it for the long haul.
“I think we have a long fight ahead with destigmatizing.” Golden added. “It's what it says, what DARE programs in the 80s, they kind of ran on demonizing marijuana in some degree so to be at the forefront of that, I'm all for it.”
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