Oxnard, CA – As COVID-19 continues to ravage the health and economies of communities across the country, civic and business leaders alike continue to scramble for creative solutions. In the seaside agrarian town of Oxnard, CA – known for its verdant fields and renowned crops like strawberries – a group of established local entrepreneurs is looking to catalyze relief and recovery through one of the few industries to flourish during the pandemic: cannabis.
During the COVID pandemic lockdown, according to purchase information compiled by New Frontier Data, the legal cannabis market saw a surge in sales, especially in states like Florida, Oregon, and Washington, as consumers flocked to the safety (and social distance) of the regulated market, with 2020 revenues projected to hit $17 billion – a 25 percent spike over last year.
Just to the north, neighboring Santa Barbara County reported a 2019-2020 Q4 doubling of cannabis tax revenues of $5.5 million, up from $2.2 million in the same period of 2018-2019.
David Albanese, Robert Sett, and Eddie Mora hope to increase those numbers in their own city, using a grassroots, community-centric approach to cannabis, focused on education, inclusion and social equity, while re-defining the industry and serving the local LatinX market.
The trio started High Farms in 2018. An Oxnard-based, vertically integrated cannabis company, their operation currently encompasses retail/dispensary and delivery, with cultivation and product-development expansion pending.
“Being local residents, we understand the local culture and more importantly, the market. We want to introduce products that are geared for our local patients, brands that are socially responsible,” said Albanese, ”Most new business and developments are occurring in the northern part of the city. We want to contribute to the redevelopment of the historical part of our city and help it thrive again like it did in decades past.”
Sett, who’s run a successful insurance firm in the area for 15 years, and been active with several non-profit organizations, sees it as a continuation of his service to the community, especially in regard to providing a local, safe, trusted source of access for patients and those who use cannabis products medicinally, including elderly consumers and military veterans seeking relief from symptoms of PTSD, a tone that often differs from many of the more recreational or “Adult-Use” focused cannabis operations. “We need to encourage compassionate care programs so that patients with PTSD, depression and other mental issues that have been known to be helped by cannabis can have access to their medicine affordably.”
The High Farms executive team has expanded their outreach recently to include local organizations including DRAGG, PAL, Oxnard Downtowners, and Kiwanis International.
High Farms is looking to carefully curate and build an integrated presence in the community, one step at a time, through establishing ancillary businesses and is currently vying for one of eight cannabis dispensary licenses.
The city of Oxnard will be awarding these licenses in the coming months and investors are positioning themselves to obtain one of the coveted business opportunities.
Albanese, a former city council candidate and entrepreneur, envisions this as a chance to strengthen Oxnard’s economy and create jobs within the community, “We want to hire within the community. Residents know the city. Their knowledge is an asset – a crucial one – to the economic and civic health of Oxnard.”
Mora, whose father uses cannabis to battle colon cancer added, ”There are many needs in our community that only local residents understand. We already help in the community when and where we can and we’re looking forward to being able to make a bigger impact.”
As cannabis continues to gain mainstream acceptance (elevating in official status across numerous municipalities from illegal to essential during the pandemic) more opportunities continue to arise across a wide spectrum of business and community sectors, from agriculture and cultivation to health/wellness, social- equity and retail.
High Farms see itself as an integral part of that growth, diversity and more importantly, revitalization and galvanizing of its own community, known the world over for its agricultural heritage.
“Our commitment to Oxnard is deep,” says Albanese, “From creating jobs to delivering superb service to promoting the city in general, High Farms puts Oxnard first.”
Find out more about High Farms at https://highfarms.com