5Qs for David Elias About Lowell Herb Co’s
Social Equity and Reparative Justice Program
American Cannabis Report: Thanks for taking our call, David. As soon as we saw this billboard we had to speak to you.
David Elias: I’m happy to speak with you about our Social Equity and Reparative Justice Program. This is a really big hiring push for us, and obviously a big issue overall.
ACR: The in-your-face placement of a billboard right that says “Recently Pardoned? We’re Hiring” directly across the street from the Men’s Central Jail and Twin Tower Correctional Facility is genius. Are you really trying to hire people, or make a political statement?
Elias: We are absolutely hiring, across seven divisions at Lowell Herb Co., and we want to give people who have been incarcerated for non-violent cannabis offenses the first look at jobs with our company. These people deserve a chance to work, and we think it’s possible they’ll really put in maximum effort and passion into a job with a company that gives them that chance.
Most employment forms include a line about a criminal record, and once you’ve checked that box, the hiring process becomes a binary experience. Regardless of your how much experience you have, or qualifications, or work ethic, or what you could have brought to a company... if you’ve got a record, you’re not getting hired.
We want to change the opportunity for people that have non-violent cannabis offenses on their records. If that seems political, it’s only because the political and judicial systems have failed these people in the first place.
ACR: What kinds of jobs are available at Lowell Herb Co.?
Elias: We are hiring in seven of our divisions: Design, Sales, Marketing, Distribution, Processing and Manufacturing, General Office Administration, and Social Media.
We are also creating workshops and training programs to get people started and learning the right processes and procedures. We are networking with several companies in the industry to put this piece together so that people can be trained on industry standard best practices. Everyone we talk to gets excited about it.
ACR: Are these minimum wage jobs, or is Lowell doing better than that.
Elias: I’m glad you asked that question, it’s really important. Lowell pays above minimum wage for all of our jobs, even on entry-level jobs. We typically start people at between $15 and $20 an hour. Many of the jobs we’re advertising here pay between $45,000 and $50,000 per year.
ACR: It’s our understanding that Lowell Herb Co., is doing very well. Isn’t it risky to step out in front of this issue?
Elias: We’ve been fortunate to become the number one pre-roll brand in the State of California. But we’re also a start-up, and having built businesses for the past 20 years, my mentality is ‘Let’s create solutions’. It’s not an option to say, ‘We can’t do something’. It’s in our DNA not to wait for a City or State to make a plan on this.
In fact, we are currently filing an application in a city I won’t name yet, but the city does not require a social equity plan. We believe so completely in the social equity piece that we are setting the standard ourselves. The cannabis industry should play an important role in hiring people with non-violent records, which are being expunged or will be, and helping put these lives back together.
There are cities that are ahead in this pardoning process, such as San Francisco, and we are hiring in those areas.
ACR: In your opinion, what are the three things that need to happen in the cannabis industry?
Elias: Get cannabis off of Schedule 1 is the top priority. It doesn’t belong there for multiple reasons – whether that means re-scheduling or de-scheduling entirely. Create access to banking. It’s insane that a billion-dollar industry is only allowed to use cash. And I think the US needs to make changes at the Federal level to allow US cannabis businesses to participate in the global economy. Consumers around the world will look to a leading brand like ours, and lots of others, and provide a huge opportunity for growth of this American industry.