Kingston Royal defines itself as an artisan cannabis brand meant to help creative thinkers open and elevate their minds. The company’s founder, Ron Brandon, carefully crafted the product to a very specific goal, combining a sense of hype with a sense of hope in artists’ creations. These days, Ron also works in social equity, helping to boost up aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs and working to revamp social equity programs as a whole. But getting to that point wasn’t easy.
Ron is originally from Philadelphia. He says he didn’t dabble in weed more than the average person but first became really interested in cannabis around 2002. He was playing in the Canadian Football League (CFL) in Vancouver. “It was evident to me at the time that, one, there’s no drug testing in the Canadian Football League. So immediately, you walk into this dynamic where the American guys are all smoking weed...”
A New Life
After playing in the CFL for seven years, Ron was released from his CFL contract. Ron saw this as an opportunity to move to LA and write music. Instead, the economy collapsed, bringing his hopes and dreams tumbling down with them. Ron continued to keep in touch with friends from the football era of his life, and many of them became firefighters or EMTs. Ron decided to try it out. He got his EMT license and became a paramedic and volunteer firefighter in Los Angeles. He worked in an ambulance and in the ER. He was really good at it, thriving in the high-stakes environment. People at the hospital were telling him to consider going back to school to become a doctor, but he didn’t have that kind of time. Despite loving his job, it was still a struggle financially, so Ron decided to turn back to cannabis.
Falling in Love with Growing
Around 2010, Ron found his green thumb. “What really caught me was that every room is different. Every harvest is different.” He found the growth cycle addicting. At the time, there wasn’t much technology or equipment geared towards large-scale marijuana growth, and Ron liked that he had to think outside the box to maximize results. “I found everything I was looking for creatively inside the grow, in cultivating. I got bit by the bug and I never really turned back. From that moment on, I was in the business of cannabis. I haven’t been out of it since.”
Kingston Royal is Born
Kingston Royal started off as a management and consulting group. The brand is tailored to very specific goals. “Kingston” is intended to remind people of Jamaica, and in Old English means “The King’s Land” or “The Kingdom.” Ron added “Royal” to allude to his growth of a crop worthy of monarchs. At this point Ron became a master of his craft and his product grew in popularity across the Bay, and more and more people started asking for Kingston Royal. Want to try Kingston Royal’s product for yourself? If you're over 21+ and based in California, famed cannabis delivery platform Eaze has three Kingston Royal products listed: Today, Kingston Royal’s website challenges that if you are a person who “respects originality” then this is the only strain for you. Even the names of the company’s pre-rolls reflect the attitude of the business: you can buy a Yellow Gold full-flower pre-roll, A White Gold infused pre-roll to “elevate your consumption experience,” or a Rose Gold infused cannabis cigar made in collaboration with Double Bubble. Everything about the Kingston Royal branding image exudes confidence. The product itself is meant to pass that self-assurance to its user, helping them to reach new heights. This is ever present in the brand’s motto “inhale originality, exhale your reality.”
Paying it Forward
Now, Ron manages over 20 different social equity brands and distributes product across every corner of the state. Taking everything Ron has learned from Kingston Royal and having reflected on how cannabis has really changed his life for the better, Ron wanted to pay it forward and help those who are struggling to start their own cannabis venture. The beginning of cannabis legalization in California opened his eyes to the predatory practices of an emerging market. “You had all these people that qualified for licensing, but they didn’t have any resources. They didn’t have the resources to put $100,000 down on a 10,000-square foot building and then sit there and pay the rent month after month after month while the City figured out their license.” Ron realized that distributors handle the sourcing for the product, the packaging, and everything else that goes into getting something on the shelves. He knew how to finesse that system by simply choosing exactly who he wanted to work with. “You don’t have to be a license holder – that’s the loophole in it. You go to some of these distribution companies and they’re just creating their own products as they go. It’s not one product. That’s what people needed to figure out in the early days of cannabis.” Ron founded a company called Locals Equity Distribution. He takes equity applicants with verified status, pairs them with equity distributors, and helps them build their brand. “Instead of trying to go raise like $10 million, we just take that equity guy who has a brand already built, take your $10,000 and help you source product, put it in the jars and distribute it for you.”
“I’m not going anywhere any time soon.” Ron has another distribution hub being built in SoCal. He’s getting back into cultivation, and just partnered with a group planning to build two 40,000-square-foot cultivation facilities in the Los Angeles area. “The goal is to become as vertically integrated as possible. Own my cultivation, own my distribution, and my wholesale manufacturing.” Those would be under different groups and brands than Kingdom Harvest, but they would all be connected. With his own supply chain and his ability to choose who he wants to work with, he’ll have control over every step of the way. It’ll be his own kingdom.