Less than a week after his Hall of Fame induction, David Ortiz entered the cannabis industry, but some social equity advocates are calling foul over his chosen partner. 

It’s harder to get higher on the Boston sports pyramid than David Ortiz. His Hall of Fame induction over the weekend served as a final footnote to a career that saw him help break The Curse of the Bambino and rally the city in the wake of the Boston Marathon attack, eventually bringing the trophy to the finish line. That moment was even immortalized last year in the Red Sox alternate jerseys, the first ever to not have any red on them. That’s how much Ortiz means to Boston. 

Now he has entered the cannabis industry. 

“Cannabis changed my life for the better,” Ortiz notes on Papicann.com. “For a while, I used to experience a lot of pain and stress… That’s why I want people to understand the healing side of cannabis.”

Slugger to Slinging

So the idea of Ortiz starting a cannabis line? Pretty cool. What could be more normalizing for cannabis than an absolute legend of the game jumping into the marketplace? For the same reasons he faced some criticism back home in the Dominican Republic this week, others have celebrated. It’s pretty apparent to any friend or foe of cannabis what it means to have a Hall of Famer of Ortiz’s status in Boston and beyond taking part in the space. 

But as much as one might like to see this as a “wind in the sails” moment for the game or a sign of undeniable progress, some social equity advocates are pretty bummed about him choosing to partner up with Revolutionary Clinics. Why? In 2019, the company sued the city of Cambridge over its social equity program meant to give the communities hit the hardest by the war on drugs a chance in the industry. 

After a public outcry and little hope of litigating their way to a faster permit, Rev Clinics dropped the case, but the damage was done. Last year, Rev Clinics announced a fund to support the businesses they were initially attempting to block, Economic Empowerment cannabis license holders — that’s how you say social equity permit in Boston-speak. They handed out the first $200,000. But some people called the 4 million dollar plan over six years a red herring. How much help could they do with $500,000 a year? It costs over a million to start a dispensary in Massachusetts well. 

So now, instead of talking about David Ortiz’s new line of blunts, we’re talking about what it means to have his storied legacy intertwined with something a bit more sketchy. 

Advocates Weigh In

Shaleen Title led the effort to include social equity in Massachusetts cannabis plans. She was one of the first members of the state’s Cannabis Control Commission and a chief evangelist nationally on not leaving the communities where enforcement of cannabis laws was the worst behind. 

“It’s wonderful that David Ortiz has found cannabis to be beneficial to his life. But I’m curious about the vetting process he used when choosing a partner in the cannabis market,” said Title, “Unfortunately, he chose to work with a Massachusetts license holder with a very public history of opposing social equity and working to cut off opportunities for hardworking entrepreneurs who, like Big Papi, are people of color seeking to create an enduring legacy in this state.”

Devin Alexander, cofounder of Rolling Relief is another leading voice in Massachusetts’ equity movement. He noted the other options Ortiz had available. 

“I think David Ortiz should’ve partnered with Justincredible Cultivation, the first independent black-owned cultivator on the East Coast, which just so happens to be based here in Massachusetts,” Alexander told L.A. Weekly. 

We reached out to Ortiz’s media and business contacts through his main page, presuming Rev Clinics was running the inbox for Papicann.com. We’re yet to hear back as of press time. 

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