AYR Wellness, a multi-state cannabis operator that seeks to be a force for good, is working with New Jersey entrepreneurs Brendon Robinson and Stanley Okoro to help open doors for disenfranchised communities. Last year, Robinson and Okoro launched Minority Cannabis Academy (MCA), a nonprofit workforce development program designed to equip people from underserved areas with education and training to enter the cannabis industry. MCA particularly emphasizes opportunities for those who were most disproportionately affected by prohibitionist policies during the War on Drugs. This summer, in partnership with AYR, the powers behind MCA debuted their brand Mudd Brothers, a cannabis company that puts community reinvestment into all aspects of the plant “from the grassroots up” - and product sales support MCA’s work.

Mudd Brothers co-founder Stanley Okoro in the lab (C) Mudd Brothers Cannabis Co

AYR Wellness Presents HAZE x Mudd Brothers Cannabis Concentrates Collaboration

Julie Winter, Vice President of Retail Operations at AYR New Jersey, describes the collaboration as “a co-packaging agreement between Mudd Brothers Cannabis Co. and HAZE, AYR’s leading brand of live and solventless concentrates.” She adds that the partners “worked together to curate a line of premium concentrate and vape products to sell under the HAZE x Mudd Brothers collaboration.”

The first HAZE x Mudd Brothers live rosin concentrates and cartridges rolled out in several of AYR’s New Jersey retail locations on the July 10th holiday (710 OIL Day). Robinson noted that by creating a brand that brings Black cultivation talent to the front while also benefiting those in need, it forges an inclusive cannabis culture that’s everything he and Okoro envisioned.

“Through Mudd Brothers, we’re able to tap into our love for the community and our love for the plant simultaneously, which aligns perfectly with our long-term goals and perspective,” he told NJBiz during the launch.

Mudd Brothers' "Straight Out The Mud" T-shirt (C) Mudd Brothers Cannabis Co

What's New In The AYR Wellness x Mudd Brothers x Minority Cannabis Academy Partnership? An Interview With Julie Winter And Brendon Robinson

Honeysuckle caught up with Robinson and Winter to find out more about the current developments in the AYR x Mudd Brothers collaboration and what’s next for the Minority Cannabis Academy.

HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: How did the AYR x Mudd Brothers x Minority Cannabis Academy partnership come together? Why do these brands work well together?

JULIE WINTER: AYR has worked closely with Mudd Brothers co-founders Brendon and Stanley in their other ventures, most notably as the co-founders of Minority Cannabis Academy and 420NJEvents. The missions of their organizations align perfectly with the “Seeds to Success” pillar of AYR’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, which seeks to support efforts to close opportunity gaps in the legal cannabis industry. We view this launch as a natural extension of the partnership we have already built together and an opportunity to make an impact directly through the sales of products.

Mudd Brothers is rooted in the community and AYR is committed to giving back to the communities it operates in - the two go hand in hand.

How does the partnership work?

WINTER: In addition to profit-sharing and accelerating the growth of a local Black-owned business, this partnership also shares a portion of profits to educational efforts in communities most impacted by cannabis prohibition.

What is the value of a partnership like this?

BRENDON ROBINSON: The value of this partnership stems from the fact that the legal cannabis industry presents a major opportunity gap to members of marginalized communities. Seeing a Black-owned brand partnering with an MSO, and then seeing the success of that partnership, is an inspiration to the entire industry.

While the industry has grown rapidly in recent years, still only a small fraction of executive positions at cannabis businesses are filled by racial minorities. This partnership enables AYR to promote a minority-owned business while also supporting minority advancement within the cannabis industry.

Mudd Brothers co-founder Brendon Robinson at the volunteer firehouse in Chesilhurst, NJ, one of the state's high-impact zones helped by the Minority Cannabis Academy (C) Mudd Brothers Cannabis Co

Exactly what portion of the proceeds will Minority Cannabis Academy receive and what initiatives will the funds go toward?

ROBINSON: In addition to the profit sharing with Mudd Brothers, $1 per unit sold of HAZE x Mudd Brothers products will go to Minority Cannabis Academy. These donations support MCA’s educational programming, which is designed to train and develop minorities and members of under-resourced communities who are hoping to enter cannabis professions. Currently, the curriculum consists of courses on horticulture, budtending, extraction, and entrepreneurship pathways, as well as exposure to industry professionals and subject-matter expertise. All of this programming is offered to MCA students free of charge.

Tell us more about the HAZE x Mudd Brothers line of rosins.

WINTER: We purposefully chose to launch this partnership with live rosin products because they are new to the New Jersey market and provide a premium experience for the consumer, and they best align with Brendon and Stanley’s “connoisseur” tastes. Unlike solvent-based concentrates, live rosin is solventless and goes through a mechanical extraction process to yield a more “pure” product that amplifies the taste of the dominant terpenes.

Currently, the HAZE x Mudd Brothers line consists of three live rosin “badder” concentrates in “Tahoe Cream,” “Melon Bomb” and “Sundae Sherbert” strains, four live rosin vape cartridges in “Tahoe Cream,” “Melon Bomb,” “Sundae Sherbert” and “KW #11” strains, in addition to live resin vapes in “Tahoe Cream” and “Sundae Sherbert.” We plan on expanding the slate of products and strains available as the partnership progresses, including small batch strain drops.

Where can the HAZE x Mudd Brothers products be purchased?

ROBINSON: Currently, HAZE x Mudd Brothers products are available exclusively in AYR’s New Jersey dispensaries in Eatontown, Union and Woodbridge, but by the end of September customers can find HAZE x Mudd Brothers in other dispensaries throughout New Jersey.

For more about AYR Wellness, visit ayrwellness.com. To learn more about Mudd Brothers, visit mbcannabisco.com. For more information about the Minority Cannabis Academy, visit minoritycannabisacademy.org.

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Featured image: Mudd Brothers co-founders Brendon Robinson and Stanley Okoro in their processing lab (C) Mudd Brothers Cannabis Co