Article by Seth Ferrant, The Fix
Freeway Ricky Ross’ name is synonymous with the dope game. In the capitalistic ’80s, when he was trafficking hundreds of kilos at a time, Freeway inadvertently became the poster boy for the crack era—a homegrown South Central, Los Angeles product who basically invented the retail market for crack cocaine, enabling him to generate upwards of $1 million dollars a day at his height. With an army of Crips at his beck and call, transporting cocaine across the nation, Freeway’s been historically blamed for the crack epidemic.
“Even though I did want some fame and recognition I never knew it could go to this level,” Freeway says of his infamy. “All this from selling drugs, but when I was in prison I started studying. I studied marketing and management, just all the different aspects of business that I really didn’t know about, but that I was doing when I was selling drugs.” Freeway realized that a lot of the attributes that made him a successful drug dealer could help him in other ventures, like the legal marijuana industry.
“I look at the marijuana industry the same way I look at other business,” Freeway says. “But I have to educate myself as much as I can. Just about all my people smoke pot, everybody in my family. I might be the only one who doesn’t. So for them to be in the industry, but not in the money making aspect of it, that’s wrong. I feel like it’s my job to go out and educate myself so that I can educate them.”
African Americans have struggled to make inroads into the legal weed industry and Freeway wants to change that. He’s been attending cannabis conventions in California and Colorado to network, learn the trade and see who’s who. Greeted as an outlaw hero of epic proportions in the legalization movement, Freeway’s found that many people in the industry are very interested in his story. Now he just needs a way to get his foot in the door.
“I’ll probably have a full line of everything. My own strains.” Freeway says. “I was going to buy a farm before the cops took my money, but I still plan on going out and getting my own farm. Right now the opportunities for ex-cons is limited, because a lot of the states don’t want us to hold licenses, but one of the licenses we can hold in California is a growing license. We can grow our own cannabis. But eventually, hopefully that will change.”