Scarmazzo is a couple of months into his latest cannabis adventure, Prophet Brands. On top of that, he just released his book, High Price. He wrote the book in solitary confinement while waiting out his punishment for testing positive for THC while incarcerated.

For many years Luke Scarmazzo represented the worst of what could happen when you dedicated your life to cannabis and rapped about the feds a pinch, but these days things are looking up. 

Scarmazzo is a couple of months into his latest cannabis adventure, Prophet Brands. On top of that, he just released his book, High Price. He wrote the book in solitary confinement while waiting out his punishment for testing positive for THC while incarcerated. 

But the lonely days are far behind him now ever since getting out last February. We had the chance to sit down with Scarmazzo, as his partner in crime, Ricardo Montes, and he are back at it. Now they are busy building the footprint for the state’s newest legacy cannabis brand. A loaded statement? Sure. But if you can’t call those two legacy, nobody qualifies. 

When we asked Scarmazzo how long he’s been working to get things in order for Prophet Brands, he was quick to note it is more like everything had built up to the moment over the years, as opposed to any one inspirational moment. 

“I mean, this shit is a way of life to me. I mean, my dad grew weed, my aunts and uncles grew,” Scarmazzo said, pointing to his earliest memories of Mexican brick weed. “The brand has been a long time coming. It’s always been a vision for us to get in where we fit, and right. Initially, when Ricardo and I opened one of the first dispensaries back in 2004, we were pushing the envelope on the dispensaries and what that looked like. We didn’t have a model to look at.” 

Scarmazzo went on to note after both served their long sentences, it was clear they had to find a new niche. Dispensaries are not the new and trailblazing thing now. Their answer was to come up with a brand that’s super social justice-oriented. 

“It’s about just taking some of those legacy roots and legacy knowledge and bringing it to the future, and bringing the new generation and bringing the community back together than it used to be. And making that be the ethos of this company,” Scarmazzo said. 

Scarmazzo went on to explain he spent a few months getting himself together before thinking about the brand. His first 60 days out was completely dedicated to his family and reestablishing himself in his old neighborhood. He said he had a lot of people he had to get around to thank for their support over the years. 

“All the people that supported me throughout all those hard years and those dark years when we were in some of the worst penitentiaries,” Scarmazzo said. “That initial few months was just reconnecting and then it was go from there.” 

They didn’t want to waste any time because they felt like they were on the bench for 15 years. Not a lot had changed about good weed during their time away, hence they were able to put their foot on the gas and get to market less than a year after Scarmazzo’s release. The official launch day was Jan. 19. 

The thing that has surprised Scarmazzo the most about the regulated market is definitely the taxes. He argues if the middlemen of yesterday were just the distros of 215, then a lot about the game hasn’t changed. It’s just that there is a license for every step of the process from growing to distribution to that retail site or delivery service that reaches the end consumer. It’s just the taxes at each step that have changed. 

“So it’s really suffocating, especially on the small operator. So that, I would say, is the biggest thing I’ve noticed,” Scarmazzo said. 

While Scarmazzo is a huge name in cannabis, many of the youth aren’t familiar with his story. He said getting to share that with people had been one of the best parts. 

“A lot of the dispensary staff are 21 to 29 years old, right? And a lot of them grew up with stores on every corner,” Scarmazzo said. “They don’t know what it took to get to legalization. They don’t know the sacrifice. They don’t know the families that were torn apart. They don’t know the incarceration. They know some of the stories, but they don’t really know it right.” 

One of the special launches so far for Prophet was Cookies Melrose. They hadn’t been really planning their push south into the LA market yet, but when Berner came calling with an order, they were quick to take advantage of the big opportunity. 

“A nod like that from Cookies and from an established operator like Berner giving us that opportunity in such a big market, it was one of the best feelings that we could have had as a brand, as a person in cannabis, just as a fan of the plant,” Scarmazzo said. “Melrose was a really special thing.”

Cookies Melrose is currently the only place in Los Angeles where you can buy Prophet Brands. But it doesn’t have to be, if any other dispensaries want to support the cause. 

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