From Arrest to CEO: The Unlikely Rise of a Cannabis Tycoon

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In the heart of New York City, Keshawn Warner has transformed a past arrest into a thriving business venture. As the co-founder of Dazed, a legal cannabis dispensary, Warner has become a prominent figure in the rapidly growing cannabis industry. Arrested for buying weed in 2008, Warner didn’t let this setback stop him; instead, he used it as a stepping stone to open one of just eight legal dispensaries in the bustling city.

Warner’s journey captures a riveting narrative about resilience and the ability to turn adversity into opportunity. Born and raised in East Harlem during the early years of the war on drugs, he witnessed first-hand the devastating impact of drug-related crime on his community. But instead of falling into the same trap that ensnared many of his peers, Warner chose to channel his experiences into creating a legitimate business, contributing to the local economy, and breaking stereotypes associated with the cannabis industry.

From Cannabis Arrestee to Dispensary Co-Founder: Keshawn Warner’s Journey

A Childhood Amid the War on Drugs

Keshawn Warner, the co-founder of Dazed, a cannabis dispensary in Massachusetts and New York, has a unique story to tell. Born in East Harlem in 1978, during the early years of the war on drugs, Warner witnessed the drastic socioeconomic changes in his neighborhood as drugs infiltrated his community. He saw the initial glitz and glamour of the drug trade eventually give way to increased violence and addiction.

Arrested for Cannabis Possession

Warner graduated from Norfolk State University in 2004 with a degree in computer science but struggled to find stable employment. His life took a turn in 2008 when he was arrested for attempting to buy cannabis during the height of the stop and frisk era. This arrest not only marked his record but also further complicated his job search.

A New Journey into the Cannabis Business

Despite his troubled history with the law, Warner, a longtime consumer of cannabis, decided to venture into the cannabis industry. His interest was piqued during a trip to Denver, where he visited a local dispensary and was struck by the business potential of the legalized cannabis industry. Inspired by this experience, he decided to open a dispensary in Massachusetts, one of the first states on the East Coast to legalize cannabis.

Dazed: A Cannabis Dispensary

In August 2021, Warner and his business partners opened Dazed, overcoming challenges like fundraising and launching a business amidst a pandemic. Things took another exciting turn when New York legalized cannabis and offered licenses to individuals with prior cannabis offenses. Warner applied and was granted one of the first four licenses in Manhattan in August 2022. For Warner, a native New Yorker, this felt like a significant achievement.

Future Prospects

In its first year, Dazed grossed about $1.2 million. Warner is optimistic about the future, projecting potential revenues of $5 million by 2024. For Warner, his journey from being arrested for cannabis possession to co-founding a successful dispensary is a testament to turning a difficult situation into a promising business opportunity.

In conclusion, Keshawn Warner’s journey demonstrates the potential for personal transformation and entrepreneurial success in emerging industries like legalized cannabis. His story serves as an inspiration for many, showing that past mistakes don’t have to define one’s future. As the cannabis industry continues to grow and evolve, it’s clear that individuals like Warner will play a significant role in shaping its trajectory.

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