Pinay chef wants to put up marijuana dispensary in California

Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jan 23 2018 01:27 PM

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OAKLAND, California – A Filipina chef is looking to make the most out of the recreational use of marijuana that is now legal in the state of California.

Charleen Caabay is an accomplished chef who specializes in modern Filipino cuisine. Most notably, she was the winner on The Food Network’s cooking competition show “Chopped,” where she infused Filipino food into her dishes for a New Year's Eve-themed menu.

Caabay, along with her business partners, are looking into opening a weed dispensary in the bay area, a projected billion-dollar industry.

“There’s room for us to be part of that. And I think there’s not that many Filipinos or people of color to jump into this type of industry because there’s such a huge stigma where they think that’s a bad thing and it’s not,” Caabay said.

Caabay admitted that the process hasn’t been easy.

“You need the right blueprints. You need the right location. You need places in zoned areas. Licensing, the cost is expensive. Just for an application, turning in an application is $2,500. Then there’s you either have to get a manufacturing license or a grower’s license,” she explained.

The US Department of Justice rescinded an Obama-era policy that eased enforcement of federal laws against marijuana despite California launching the world’s largest regulated commercial market for recreational marijuana.

Caabay said this is another case of the government trying to regulate something they are not benefiting from.

“If they don’t have their hands in it or a piece of the ‘green rush’ they’re going to make it harder on us,” she said.

Caabay’s formal marijuana business will be called The People’s Dispensary and will look to serve as a hub for other communities. 

“We’re going to be incubating other businesses so they can thrive. From that, it’s basically a big chain helping this business get their cannabis business up and they’re able to supply jobs and a form of equity to their community as well,” she said.

Caabay and her partners hope to open their dispensary within the year.

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