Twin brothers who start cannabis delivery business get ‘head start’ with $ 25,000 capital grant from NETA
Twin brothers Jensen and Jackson Mejia burst with passion as they start a cannabis delivery company called Florencia, a process that got a little easier thanks to a $ 25,000 grant from NETA.
Jensen said he sees the cannabis industry as a chance to build something on his own from scratch. Jackson was an ideal partner as a twin, but also for his experience as a lawyer. The two have been working on the creation of Florencia since its integration last year and Jensen is part of the state’s social equity program, designed to provide training to those disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
“We have all of these career ideas, but sometimes the money gets in the way and the resources,” Jackson said in an interview.
Jensen has been “eyes and ears,” always looking for ways to bridge that gap, Jackson said. Jensen saw a MassLive History about NETA’s grant program, offering $ 25,000 for the purchase of safety equipment to holders of economic empowerment or social equity permits, and applied.
NETA announced Tuesday that the brothers have received the grant and plans to present the funds next week.
“It’s a step ahead, it’s a good start,” Jackson said. “We’re also broadcasting our story, which is amazing.”
The brothers arrived in the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1991 and moved to Worcester with their family.
“We grew up in Worcester and grew up in poverty,” Jackson said. “We are a family of six children, single mother who worked at the daycare [our] at home just to take care of us. For us, there are not many resources to draw on. “
The name Florencia is a nod to their mother’s maiden name, Florencio.
Jackson said the brothers were in shock to receive such a large sum, although they will still need a lot more to run a cannabis company. Getting into the industry is expensive, and as cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, raising capital remains a challenge, especially for under-represented business owners.
“The Mejia brothers are awesome entrepreneurs who share NETA’s commitment to promoting social responsibility and inclusion in their workplaces and in the cannabis industry,” said Kim Napoli, Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility. Parallel business and community affairs, of which NETA is a division. . “They are just the image of intention, hope, desire, all of those things, it was just screaming through their application. Their story is really exciting and mainly the desire they have, the intention and what we perceive as the ability to be successful is really what told us ‘this is the right team to go with it.’
NETA plans to make the grant program annual as part of its positive impact plan. About 12 companies have applied for the first round of the grant, Napoli said.
“There is a real need, particularly in Massachusetts, to implement the positive impact plans required of all operators. There is a real need for fairness to finally be realized in the cannabis industry, ”said Napoli. “It’s one way we’re able, as a larger operator, to actually use our resources for the benefit of a business that might otherwise not have the resources to do so.
Jensen said he thinks the grant shows NETA understands the importance of fairness in the industry.
“NETA went above and beyond for us,” Jensen said. “They believe it can happen with us, NETA has improved this for us. We are very grateful.
The brothers have applied for pre-certification for a marijuana courier license, but now have their sights set on a delivery operator license, which is seen as a more financially viable option. The state Cannabis Control Commission is still preparing the application for this type of newly approved license. Delivery licenses are limited to equity applicants for the first three years.
After contacting a number of municipalities, the Mejias plan to operate in Uxbridge, pending final city approvals. They chose the city of central Massachusetts because it was home to cannabis companies, Jensen Mejia said. Caroline’s cannabis, the first female-owned cannabis company in Massachusetts, is located in Uxbridge.
Their younger brother Ardwin, a US Navy, plans to join Jensen and Jackson’s company upon his return from his current military duties. The twins are delighted that their brother’s expertise contributes to safety and security.
“Because we can bring their experience and NETA has given us the opportunity to do so, the grant is a huge benefit,” Jensen.
Pickup trucks for delivery require a bit of security, including locking and storage mechanisms. Drivers must also wear body cameras.
“We’re going to make sure we have the best and the greatest security,” Jackson said. “It’s a good start for what is going to be a very important part of the business.”
Jensen said the brothers wanted to make sure everything was done right the first time, without cutting corners.
Being part of the social equity agenda has been an asset, Jensen said. He said the CCC responded quickly to questions and was a valuable resource.
For now, the brothers have focused on the regulatory process. Soon they will start to think about what types of cannabis products they want to deliver.
The twins see Florencia as a way to reunite their family, to have a firm footing in the United States, and to stick to the social equity agenda.
Whether it’s because they’re twins or not, Jensen said he has the utmost confidence in his brother and knows that together they can make their dream come true.
“It’s a weird thing when you’ve grown up with someone and you know that person so well that you also know how they’re going to react,” Jackson said. “I wouldn’t do that, I don’t think so, with anyone else.