What do a musician and entertainer, a farmer and investor, and an investigative journalist and producer have in common? In this case, a love for cannabis, a passion for justice, and the talent to launch a creative studio in support of a more equitable and inclusive society.
3IsFor was founded and is owned by three childhood best friends: Kris Karl, JoJo Simmons, and David Dow. The company is a seed bred in friendship, planted near an ocean, watered by support and the need for change, and later blossomed into a business This collective of change-makers were and remain united by the goal of leaving a transformative impact on society.
3isFor: Trailblazers, Collaboration, and Culture
The name 3IsFor, as described by its founders, means: “Three co-founders that are for: cannabis, three is for plant medicine, three is for psychedelics, three is for doing good in the world. These three guys are for everything positive and really changing the world and making true impact. We like to focus on the things that bring us together collectively, versus what divides us. For us, it's bigger than any one industry and any one topic. It's about three passionate individuals coming together for the community and for things that we believe in.”
The what: (the creative studio), was built because of the many whys: community, transcending time zones and other dividing lines, normalizing cannabis, amplifying underrepresented voices, and creating a ripple effect of change that benefits humanity at large.
Since the launch of 3IsFor in Spring 2023, the owners have stayed true to their why. In the portfolio of projects so far, the brand has produced/published/covered/sponsored/and been spotlighted in and/or at Black Cannabis Week, Cannastock New York Festival, On The Revel’s Revelry events, Angela Simmons Purposeful Holiday Gala and Toy Drive, Juneteenth Emancipation Edition of Plates and Plants Dinner Series, the Emerald Cup Harvest Ball; and they have captured amazing conversations with 40 Tons, the Dank Duchess, Last Prisoner Project; to name a few.
Who Are The 3IsFor Founders? Meet JoJo Simmons, Kris Karl, And David Dow
The 3IsFor founders, a trio of childhood best friends, describe their enterprise by saying, “We’re more than just a creative studio; we’re a value-driven company that chooses to only work with those who share our commitment to good.” Here’s more about them:
The CEO and co-founder of Whos House Entertainment, a music production company that manages and develops artists. He is the son of legendary rapper Rev Run of Run DMC and spent his teenage years starring on Run’s House, a reality TV series that aired on MTV for five seasons and chronicled the Simmons family’s adventures. He is the recipient of an NAACP award for Outstanding Reality Series; and for the past four years he’s been one of the stars of WE TV series Growing Up Hip Hop.
When he was 19 years old, JoJo was arrested in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood for possession of cannabis. As he has related at Revelry and other events, he realized that although his privilege kept him out of prison, there were many other people suffering from cannabis criminalization whose lives were being ruined. He was inspired to become part of the solution.
At 3IsFor, JoJo’s main hat is overseeing content and production, focusing on strategy, working with production teams, editing, working with directors, brand awareness, and more. Kris refers to Jojo as the “Chief Entertainment Officer.” At home, JoJo is a proud husband and a dedicated and devoted father of two.
A community-driven entrepreneur, regenerative farmer, investor and philanthropist with a background in public service. Kris is passionate about building, investing in, and supporting projects that have goals beyond revenue and profit.
At 3IsFor, Kris’ main hat is Chairman of the Board and Chief Vision Officer, but JoJo says: “Kris deals with a lot of the day to day logistics and the stuff that I would say is a little bit harder for some people. He helps make sure that we're all on point.” At home, Kris is a husband and father that homeschools his four children in partnership with his wife.
A CBS producer and the Development Producer for the crime and justice series 48 Hours, he played a pivotal role in the creation of the 48 Hours Cold Case franchise. He secured exclusive interviews for Gayle King while working as a producer for CBS This Morning, and he was a co-creator of The Black History Month TrailBlazer series. David was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story in a Newscast, and his work has been recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
At 3IsFor, David is known as “King Researcher” and his main hat is finding and telling the stories. JoJo says: “He is the best researcher; he knows my phone book better than I know my phone book.” At home, he is a loving son, brother, uncle, and friend.
3IsFor Everything Good: The Founders On Cannabis, Mission, And More
VERONICA CASTILLO: For those reading about you all individually for the first time, what should they know about each of you as it relates to your individual ‘why’ in cannabis?
JOJO SIMMONS: My why has more than one answer, there are a lot of whys. I was arrested for cannabis and obviously I've been advocating publicly. I'm an ambassador for the Last Prisoner Project because I believe that nobody should be in prison for cannabis. My arrest showed me how people are treated over a plant. So that's one of my whys. But I always tell people one of my main whys is that I always wanted to advocate for cannabis. I always felt like I couldn't because of the family that I came from, or that I would be judged. Now, I’m my full self publicly, sharing what I’ve learned about the plant over the years, and stepping in front of the plant and saying, “Hey, this is who I am, this is what I support, and you know…this is what it's going to be.”
DAVID DOW: You know, I'm always a facts type of person. I think it is just the reeducation of the plant for me. Having conversations and sharing the stories of those that have used the plant for a variety of ailments. When I actually got into the community and started meeting people that have seen and experienced the plant's benefits, it opened a new veil for me of what the plant really is and can do.
KRIS KARL: For me, it’s like JoJo, I have more than one. The deeper that we've gotten involved in both the cannabis industry and movement, the more whys I have. My core whys: I don't know that I would be here today if not for cannabis. I'm a medical patient for a few reasons, the primary reason being mental illness and some neurodivergence. The other is the deep relationship I have with cannabis because it saved my life. There was a point that my wife and I were experiencing miscarriages, I was going through various struggles, and I reached a dark place. Cannabis and psychedelics allowed me to find a place of peace and be able to exist inside of my brain, and it reshaped my whole relationship with the plant. I'm here because of cannabis in a very real sense. And the other core why is, I don't think that anyone should be in a cage because of a plant. I come from a public and community service background and I’ve seen too many lives impacted negatively over cannabis.
What can you tell us about the day that the concept for 3IsFor was born?
KARL: I think I can probably take this one. JoJo and I will always say that Dave is the glue. And I think Dave really brought this whole thing together. But it was kind of spurred by my brain, at least this iteration. I was visiting family down South and I was sitting on the edge of the ocean looking at the water. I was on the dock of the bay like Otis Redding, and it was kind of a tough time. We were looking at super polarized politics in our country and you know, a resurgence of prejudice and racism. Maybe not a resurgence, but the fucked up fact that the curtains had been opened to show how bad things still were in this country. George Floyd had recently been murdered, and we were all kind of reeling emotionally from that.
As I mentioned, Dave's been my best friend since we were five and I've called him about everything. Also, Dave has always been involved with cannabis in a deep way and always had a lot of relationships in the legacy market in New York and beyond. So I called Dave and I was like, “Hey man, I'm thinking and feeling all of this stuff and want to do something, make an investment, build something in this space…what do you think?”
He said, “Say less, I'm gonna call Jo, and I'm gonna get back to you.” And literally, within a day or so, we were on a call with some other folks that Dave and Jo knew in this space.
What is 3IsFor’s mission as relates to advocacy, creatives, and business owners in cannabis?
KARL: It's to highlight, uplift, and empower. We want people to know it's not just our story; it's everybody's story. We want to align with, uplift, and empower other creators and business owners in this space that really care.
DOW: We want to use our platform and be the microphone for those creatives and businesses, so they can be able to elevate and let people know what they’re doing.
What are your favorite ways to consume the plant? Is there a preferred method or a blended method?
SIMMONS: My favorite way to consume is to roll up and smoke a joint. I do edibles, and topicals, and I dab every now and then, but my main thing is rolling up a joint. I like the old-fashioned way: breaking down with a grinder, putting it into paper, and sparking up. That's how I like to enjoy it.
DOW: I'm more fond of a spliff.
KARL: So, I like to say I'm a non-discriminatory cannabis consumer. I think there's a time and place for most forms. I don’t like anything that's messy. I'm not a big distillate fan, but I love solventless hash. Really well grown flower are kind of my favorites. I grow myself, so I'm passionate about making my own hash and and you know, smoking my own sun grown flower. I'm a little bit of a hippie, so the whole outdoor regenerative weed thing is definitely my bag.
What are some recent 3IsFor projects that readers should go check out?
SIMMONS: I would go to our YouTube channel. YouTube has a lot of our content, a lot of the interviews that we've done… It's constantly being updated with videos and interviews we have [done, which has] led to talking to a lot of powerful people in the space. Check out our Instagram, which is constantly being updated with everything that we do.
We do have a lot of upcoming projects that I would love to discuss, but you know, we're more men of action than men of words. We would love for you guys to see it once released because we have so many exciting things coming in 2024. We just had a call this morning about all the great things that are on the horizon for us.
So you know, besides what we already have out, you'll be seeing a lot more of 3IsFor, a lot more of us doing more impactful things, and a lot more intentional content and intentional impact.
DOW: We did some coverage and it's actually working into a longer piece that you'll be seeing about the Equity Trade Network and their legacy market that they hosted at Grasslands out in San Francisco. That was a really cool piece because for us, it talks about tying this plant and community that we love, and particularly the social equity side of the industry to the mainstream, music world, and event world. There’s also the sit down that JoJo had with Gary Chambers.
There are so many aspiring creatives sitting in classrooms and offices bored to death, knowing they want to create art but having no idea where to start outside of social media. What is one piece of advice for those aspiring creatives?
SIMMONS: Don't be afraid to push the limitations; your circumstances are not your limit. Some people don't know where to start. You just have to start, then let it flow. I think that we all have a creative side and I think people let a lot of things hinder that. I think that you just have to be unapologetically yourself and that's the best way to be creative. Be you and push the limits.
KARL: The second that you accept that you are a creative or an artist, know that you are right. It doesn't matter if some of the work never sees the light of day; you're putting art in the world and you know, sooner or later it'll lead to more for you. You just have to actively create.
DOW: Don’t get discouraged and keep pushing forward. It's the hardest thing to be creative and always hearing about the starving artists, but I think that it’s a necessary part of the journey. Once you're committed to it, and you keep at it, as long as you're consistent, you'll come out on top.
What are three things you all want to see change immediately regarding cannabis legalization in the United States?
SIMMONS: I would love to see better ways of dealing with cannabis in the judicial system. I'd like to see every state go legal, recreationally and medicinally. When it comes to media, I'd like to have less of a shadowban on the content created for education. We definitely think that the people that laid the ground rules and did a lot risking their lives and freedom to make sure we all had some good cannabis when it wasn't legal; deserve a seat at the table.
KARL: I would love to see cannabis descheduled immediately and I would love to see [tax code] 280E eliminated. I think it's crippling to the industry. Those two things alone would create an incredible impact. But also, making sure that legacy is included in the forward progress of legalization.
DOW: For me it’s restorative justice; allowing more opportunity for the people most impacted by prohibition, the opportunity to get into the legal industry.
What’s Next For 3IsFor?
As it relates to the friendship and bond between the people at 3IsFor, Kris Karl says:
“I find that being radically transparent really helps. It's not for everybody, but I've done my best, as have Dave and Jo, to cultivate a place here at 3IsFor where our team knows you can walk in the door one day and be like ‘Guys, I'm at 10 percent and I'm really not doing great today’. And I think a lot of times where people expect that that's going to be negative, it turns into a positive, because people appreciate that honesty. And most of the time when you're with the right people, they want to support you because they know you would do the same for them.”
For more about 3IsFor, visit 3isfor.com.
Special Thanks To Cannabis Business Sponsors
Thank you to the following sponsors!
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Veronica Castillo is known as the Traveling Cannabis Writer. She was a nomadic writer on the road covering all things cannabis/ hemp/ and overall plant medicines and recently came back home to Florida, making it her homebase once again. Her body of work can be found in multiple industry publications both digital and print where she provides cannabis industry and community insights from her 5 year journey around the country. She is a collaborator, connector, always seeking to bring to light the hidden gems in the plant space. You can follow her journey on Instagram: @vee_travelingvegcannawriter and/or LinkedIn: @Traveling Cannabis Writer
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Featured image: 3IsFor founders left to right: David Dow, JoJo Simmons, and Kris Karl (C) 3IsFor