While many remember him for his rim-rocking dunks, former Seattle Supersonic Shawn Kemp has traded in the basketball shoes for a weed dispensary license. In what is being billed as Seattle’s first black-owned dispensary, Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis has opened its doors to the public. Partnering with the established Cannabis entrepreneurs behind Main Street Marijuana, Kemp’s dispensary is his first foray into the hot legal recreational market. After playing in the NBA for over 15 seasons, and with established ties to the Seattle area, Kemp hopes to cash in on his brand and bring about parity to the legal cannabis industry.
Entering the NBA in the late eighties as the youngest player in league history, Kemp went on to establish himself as a perennial all-star and led Seattle to an appearance in the 1996 NBA Finals against the vaunted Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. Always a fan favorite, Kemp has remained in the Seattle area after his retirement from the now-defunct Supersonics. However, Kemp is not the only former Supersonic to try his hand at the marijuana game. Kemp’s Hall of Fame teammate, Gary Payton, also entered the legal cannabis market. Payton’s company, CannaSports, sells marijuana cartridges adorned with the colors and schemes of popular sports teams. Payton has also lent his image and namesake to the popular marijuana strain that bears his name. Sold by industry giant, Cookies, the Gary Payton strain has become immensely popular among marijuana users.
Kemp Hopes To Inspire People Of Color Entering The Industry
It is well-documented that there are long-lasting effects on the black community from the failed war on drugs. Prison sentences and felony convictions for non-violent marijuana offenses have ruined the lives of many. This fact is not lost on Kemp, who hopes his entry into the market motivates others to follow suit. “I hope that Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis will be an inspiration for people to get involved with the legal cannabis industry, especially people of color,” Kemp said. Still, he is most passionate about the medical marijuana side, helping the elderly and infirmed get relief though safe legal marijuana.
Kemp and his partners are also working to grow diversity within Washington’s cannabis industry. Through Washington State Legislative Task Force on Equity in Cannabis, Kemp is doubling down on his desire to expand access to communities of color. The Task Force has about 35 licenses that have been set aside for those who have been disproportionately affected by previous marijuana laws. Not only that, but the Task Force is searching for ways to get more black-owned dispensaries throughout the state. With the help of Kemp and others, the Task Force is attempting to balance the disparity in who is granted a marijuana license. It should be noted that Kemp’s stake in his newly-formed company stands at only 10%. Critics allege that Washington still has a long way to go before fully establishing fairness and diversity within the state’s legal cannabis market.