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This athlete's weed side hustle turned into a movement to change L A 's


Chris Ball walks through the cavernous supermarket-sized warehouse space with the purpose of an athlete ready to hit the field. He’s wearing a gray tracksuit with black-and-white checkerboard accents, a pair of black-and-white checkerboard Old Skool Vans and a black ball cap with the brim facing backward. Both the hat and the hooded sweatshirt are emblazoned with the name of his cannabis brand, Ball Family Farms, and its logo, which consists of a pair of crossed black-and-white checkered flags. The athletic way the 43-year-old moves through the room is no accident; football skills earned the Rialto, Calif., native a scholarship to the UC Berkeley training camp with the San Francisco 49ers (“I got released, ” he said with a half-shrug), one season with NFL Europe’s Berlin Thunder and two with the Canadian Football League. But that was back in the early aughts — ancient history, really — and Ball only brings it up to explain how he came to fall in love with the plant side of the cannabis business.“I went to play with the [British Columbia] Lions in Vancouver in 2004, and that’s where I saw weed being grown for the first time, ” he said. “Before that, I had just bought it. A guy on my team had a little grow started, and I just kind of fell in love with it; watching the buds grow, watch the harvesting and the trimming — the whole process. “Ball wasn’t new to the weed trade when he had his eureka moment. He had started selling pot when he was a teenager. “My first attempt was at 16, and that didn’t work. Then I tried again when I was 18 and that didn’t work either, ” he said. “I guess I was trying [to sell weed] for the wrong reasons. But when [my teammate] broke down the numbers and told me how much it cost him compared to what he was selling it for and what I could sell it for, it was a no-brainer. ”He explained that during the offseason, some of the football players (including him) would supplement their incomes by bringing weed into the U. S. from Canada. “I became very popular doing that because I was able to undercut the market here [and] because I was getting it so cheap, ” he said. “That’s when my status started to rise. ”Eventually, Ball said, a friend introduced him to someone who’d been on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s radar. “I touched a guy who was working for a very prominent drug cartel, and we started doing some weed business together, ” he said. In 2010, Ball and his younger brother Charles (now the chief financial officer of Ball Family Farms) took an ill-fated road trip to Arizona to sell cannabis. As the transaction unfolded, Ball said he got a call that law enforcement was tailing the car with the weed in it. “We all broke our phones and scattered and didn’t talk to each other for a while, ” Ball said. “And a month later, I’m in Miami at a friend’s party and I get a call on my phone that’s all zeros. I answered it, and the guy said, ‘Hello, Mr. Ball, this is the Drug Enforcement Agency.

All data is taken from the source: http://latimes.com
Article Link: https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2021-09-09/how-chris-ball-went-from-professional-football-to-pot-farm

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