Edgar Cruz and Brandon Bolton at Colorado Lagoon in Long Beach Tuesday, December 8, 2020. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.
When Edgar Cruz was 15, he was charged with illegal possession of cannabis for the first time. For him, selling cannabis in the illicit market became a means of survival, albeit a risky one.
Twelve years later, he’s trying to become an established entrepreneur in the newly legalized industry, a path that has been anything but easy.
Cruz was among the first participants in the city of Long Beach’s initial cannabis equity program, which—two years into its existence—has failed to create any new minority-owned businesses. But Cruz is determined to change that—with or without the city’s help.
After forming a nonprofit to represent marginalized entrepreneurs looking to enter the cannabis industry, Cruz and his business partner developed an ambitious plan to provide them with business development support, which they’re pitching to the city along with their policy suggestions.
City officials are well aware the program has struggled to make an impact, and are collecting and soliciting feedback from people including Cruz to develop new policy suggestions.
“There were some glaring gaps,” said Ajay Kolluri, assistant to the city manager and the city’s point person for its cannabis programs.
Cruz and others working behind the scenes are pushing the city to allow delivery-only retail businesses, among other policy changes, and his group is also establishing an academy for aspiring business owners to gain support and knowledge.
Published: December 16, 202o