Healing With Hemp: Why Wait Until Medical Marijuana Is legal?
Raul Medina Jr. walks into a Starbucks in Hollywood's Young Circle and asks for a cup of black coffee with light hazelnut syrup and exactly two ice cubes. Better-known as DJ Raw, Medina brought hip-hop to Miami from his native South Bronx and founded Hoodstock, a free, big-name festival in Wynwood in the '90s. He's also a former cocaine kingpin who did a ten-year prison stint for trafficking. Today he's a 50-year-old vegan father of five who prefers the quiet life up in Broward to the neighborhood he helped transform into a graffiti artist's mecca.
"When I got out, people were like 'Let's go take over 40th Street again,' " Medina says. "I was like, 'You can keep 40th Street; I'm going to Broward.' "
Although Medina has taken to the family-friendly aspects of suburbia, a Starbucks isn't an appropriate place to talk business. After all, Medina is the exact same kind of businessman he was before: pushing a contentious product and hoping to benefit the greater good despite the risk. Whereas before he was slinging crack to invest money back into his neighborhood, now he's getting ahead of the speculative medical marijuana business boom in Florida because he believes in hemp's healing properties. He tells New Times about his new foray inside of a giant blacked-out van that he uses for his main entrepreneurial venture, the Best Auto Detailer.
But as of last December, he's also the founder of a product line called Your Loving Care. Instead of slinging crack, Medina has a new side gig: whipping up delicious baked goods made with hemp oil and hemp flour. As he puts it: "Cakes are cakes."
The business idea came from three places. First, Medina went vegan in prison and started seeing a holistic doctor in Lauderhill after his release. Second, he met his wife, a supercool Canadian Rastafarian named Najeebah, in 2008. Third, when his auto detailing business started servicing millionaires with luxury vehicles, he found a coterie of deep-pocketed potential investors.
He's hoping to lure them in at his 4/20 event, Florida Hemp Fest, in Fort Lauderdale. With his business savvy and their money, they can open an entire chain of dispensaries, he says. But until medical marijuana becomes legal — and many expect it will this November, when voters will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment — Medina just wants to spread the word about his cakes. He says he can count Broward millionaires as customers, as well as some people who truly benefit. He names off a 9-year-old autistic girl who is better able to socialize at school after a little nibble. After losing his mom to cancer and his sister to AIDS, he says he wishes hemp products could have eased their pain.
A New Times reporter experienced some of Medina's products and their, uh, healing properties and has nothing but chill vibes to report back. Medina looks forward to the day when his blueberry cakes can be openly enjoyed in places that are not a windowless van, maybe even in a place like Starbucks.
"Medical marijuana is going to happen, and people are going to be smoking blunts in the streets," he explains. "We're just getting there first."
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