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Vegas Canna Mag: LOCKGREEN ft. Love, Marriage and a Business in Cannabis

Meet the Owners of LOCKGREEN

Originally written by Vee Castillo and published in Vegas cannabis magazine

20 years ago, when dial up/ DSL internet connected us, prior to “there’s an app for that”, and before vegans had 10+ types of plant milk; an athlete and cannabis enthusiast from the east coast, and a Delta from the midwest who was passionate about being a boss, were walking separate paths that led them to the same place: Virginia, the state for lovers. 

20 years later, Sarah Morton and Ron Morton are partners in life and partners in business with LOCKGREEN, a company that gives cannabis consumers across the country peace of mind when safely storing and traveling in a car with their stash. 

The journey to business ownership is something Sarah always wanted. She admits knowing from an early age that she wanted to be a business owner; but what she didn’t know at the time was the kind of business and the challenges that awaited. Cannabis wasn’t in Sarah’s view. On the other hand, Ron was attracted to the business of cannabis; he stated: 

“I had an interest in a number of things outside of sports – mainly the business of cannabis. I’ve always had an affinity toward cannabis and a love for the plant particularly on the genomics side, which I naturally gravitated to”.

With legalization nowhere in sight when they were in college, Ron being charged with cannabis related offense while in college, and Sarah not understanding the benefits of the plant due to the stigmas and prohibition while in college, the now married couple started their career journey’s in other industries. Though, Ron, like many that have been arrested for cannabis related offenses, faced years of challenges gaining employment.

It wasn’t until years later, that Ron and Sarah realized that Sarah’s dream of business ownership, Ron’s fascination with the business of cannabis, and the way out of employment struggles would rest in cannabis. They didn’t know at the time that their joint path was leading them to the launch of LOCKGREEN; stash boxes that are smell-proof and have a built-in combination lock to keep kids, pets, and unwanted guests out and helps prevent open container law violations when traveling in a car with cannabis.

Celebrating 20 Years Since Meeting, Meet the Founders of LOCKGREEN

Happy 20 years since meeting in Virginia, the state for lovers, and as I say this I realize that the release of this feature will be in February: Black History Month and Valentine’s Day, so we are celebrating all kinds of love! Let’s start with where each of you from and where your roots link to? 

Sarah: “I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. Both my mom and dad were from Coastal Virginia (Suffolk and Virginia Beach, respectively) so we would spend summers and Christmas break in Virginia every year growing up. When I graduated high school, I got a scholarship to the University of Virginia (UVA) which is where Ron and I met later as students. After college, I moved to northern Virginia outside of DC (the DMV area) and later to the Coastal Virginia area where my parents are from. We now live in Virginia Beach, VA.” 

Ron: “My roots link to the south, mostly North Carolina and South Carolina, however; I was born and raised in Trenton, NJ where I was raised with my mother and grandmother. I attended elementary school through high school in Hamilton, NJ. During that time I played football and other sports. After years of honing in on my athletic prowess, I earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Virginia.” 

Please give readers insight into Sarah pre Ron, and Ron pre Sarah.

Sarah: “I was young, ambitious, fun, social, career-oriented, and ready to conquer the world – the same as I am now but now I am not so young! I was a straight-A student in high school and always involved in church and community leadership activities. In college, I was a Resident Advisor, a Peer Advisor for incoming African-American first year students, and a member and Social Chair of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Since I was a young girl, I always knew I wanted to have my own business, but I had no idea what it was going to be. I knew life would reveal it to me in due time, and that is indeed what happened with LOCKGREEN!”  

Ron: “I was always a good student, involved in local community activities, usually with my teammates and friends. I had a natural interest in electronics and video games so, if there was any information or educational material I could get my hands on, I was all in. I really enjoyed history, however I didn’t study it in college. Like I mentioned before, I have loved the business of cannabis and I’m fascinated by how the cannabis plant produces a variety of cultivars, and how those cultivars have a direct impact on markets and submarkets. I knew I wanted to be involved in this industry in a multitude of ways. LOCKGREEN is one of them!”

The start of the celebration, the meet that happened in the state for lovers. Please tell us how and when this happened?

Sarah: “We met in the Spring of 2004 via AOL Instant Messenger (remember that?!). We had several mutual friends but never connected ourselves until Ron got my screen name from one of our mutual friends and reached out to me. I wasn’t sure who he was, so we agreed to meet at an upcoming party that both of us were going to. When I saw this tall, dark, handsome man, I thought, how have we never met before?!”

Ron: “I met Sarah in my second year at UVA when I would often see her in the lunch hall. We had mutual friends but never directly interacted. It wasn’t until I sought out her AIM messenger handle, that I directly engaged with her to get to know her better. After a conversation or two, I wanted to rendezvous in-person so she could know I wasn’t a random person just chatting with her online. I asked her if she was attending a party so we could meet around familiar people. From there we became close and started to date.” 

3.5 grams presented a life altering event; please tell me about Ron’s arrest in college. 

Ron: “I called the police because my apartment had been burglarized and an officer showed up to take the report. When he arrived, I showed him the damage and we stepped outside of the apartment to talk further because the officer wasn’t comfortable with my pitbull. It was cold outside so we decided to finish taking the report in his car. I threw on a hoodie and walked to his car.  Before getting in the car, the officer asked if I had any weapons or drugs on me. At that point, I remembered I had an eighth in the pocket of my hoodie! It was too late then, he searched me, found the weed, and gave a summons to show up to court. This was my first cannabis charge – non-violent, simple possession and ironically, I caught it while reporting a crime that happened to me.”  

Sarah, can you share your experience as Ron’s girlfriend/partner while he was going through this?

Sarah: “I was not opposed to cannabis at this time, but I was opposed to the additional risk of getting in legal trouble that it added to his life. I truly understood that this situation was an honest mistake, but I still resented his involvement with it. I mean I smoked occasionally in college, to me it was like drinking, something fun to do but nothing worth getting in legal trouble for.  

I didn’t know then what I learned later. It was years later when Ron and I were discussing the possibility of him working in the cannabis industry that I learned more about the medical benefits of cannabis, its horrible history of prohibition, the disproportionate impact that the War on Drugs has had on the Black community overall, and other social issues.”

The business of cannabis became a legal thing years later with Denver becoming a legal cannabis/adult use state, and Ron wanted to explore that. Sarah, my understanding is that you didn’t. Can you tell me about that?

Sarah: “Back in 2010, Ron told me about wanting to move to Denver, CO to be involved in the cannabis industry, I was definitely opposed. We just had our 2nd child less than a year prior, we owned a house, and I had a great career. The problem was that HE did not have a great career and he was having trouble finding a stable job due to the cannabis conviction on his record, despite having a college degree. To me, cannabis was the reason for all of these issues so I couldn’t understand why he wanted to get involved in something that caused so much drama.”

So how did Sarah go from NO to YES?

Sarah: “I saw him working hard to apply for better jobs, I saw him ALMOST get hired for jobs that he really wanted, and I also saw him determined to figure out a way to get around the hurdles while also pursuing an industry that he was passionate about.  

It was going to take great risk, but what was the alternative – staying in Virginia and struggling?  No, he would rather struggle to figure out something new in a place where he would not be penalized for his past mistakes, and as his wife, I eventually chose to support him in that next step. I became more educated on the industry and Ron’s passion around it. We decided that he would go and “try it out” alone because uprooting our family would be too much to do solely based on a dream at that point.  

Before he left for Denver, he sold his car so he would have money to live on while he literally started from the bottom of the industry to work his way up.”  

Tell me about the 6 years Ron was in Denver and coming home once a month. 

Sarah: “Those years that Ron was living in Denver were tough. Money was tight, I was working a demanding full time role and managing two young boys on my own, often pulling out my laptop to work again before going to sleep. When Ron came home about once a month, it was like a vacation to the boys because Ron would take them shopping and sometimes let them skip school.  

I was so excited to see him when he came home, yet on his longer stays (around a week), I had to balance being frustrated because our daily routines were thrown off so much, and I needed a routine to keep organized while managing the boys on my own.  

Our careers were flourishing separately and we were experiencing daily life separately as two young parents in two different parts of the country. There was a time when our communication was terrible and our marriage struggled.  It was not a smooth road, but somehow we pushed through it because we loved each other and we both had a strong desire to keep our family together.  

He eventually came back to Virginia after owning a cultivation facility and selling his ownership of it.  I thought the transition to him being home with us full-time would be hard, but surprisingly it wasn’t.  Shortly after, Ron was hired to work in Maryland’s new medical cannabis market and we ALL moved that time!”  

The launch of LOCKGREEN, walk me through the day the idea was born.

Sarah: “Our family moved back to Virginia in early 2021 where Ron worked in the Virginia cannabis market and we soon after started LOCKGREEN. In April 2021, Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam made a surprise decision to push up the date to legalize adult-use cannabis to July 2021 instead of in 2024 as it was originally planned in legislation. Everyone in Virginia was excited, including us, but we also knew that the devil can be in the details.  

We read the law as it was (and currently still is) written and saw that Virginia’s cannabis open container law was unclear and confusing. It stated that anything other than an “originally sealed manufacturer’s container” carrying cannabis in a moving vehicle would be deemed an open container and traveling with an open container is a misdemeanor in Virginia.  Despite Virginia legalizing adult use, we still have no legal retail market, so there is no way that a law-abiding citizen outside of the medical program can legally transport cannabis in a car that they grew or were gifted (both legal in Virginia) since there is not store to buy it from in a sealed manufacturer’s container.

Additionally, statistics show that as more and more states legalize, unfortunately there are more and more calls to poison control and ER visits due to kids and even pets ingesting cannabis. So the question was then, how do we help PROTECT cannabis consumers and help PREVENT others from getting cannabis law violations and suffering the consequences, like Ron did?  

Our answer: LOCKGREEN.”  

Most people/businesses have a what to their why. The stash boxes that LOCKGREEN offers are the what, what’s the company’s why?

Sarah: “Our company’s why is rooted in our decision to be more than just a stash box company, but to positively impact people’s lives. For example, after launching LOCKGREEN, Ron started LOCKGREEN Consulting, which supports licensed cultivation facility operators across the country as a Commercial Commercial Equipment Consultant. The harsh reality:

  • Year after year, more people are arrested for cannabis than for any other drug in the United States.
  • Even worse, Blacks are 4x more likely to be arrested for cannabis than whites, which means our communities disproportionately bear the consequences of marijuana convictions.
  • The consequences are life-changing, such as barriers to employment, housing, child custody, student loans, and more.  

Ron has experienced consequences first hand and we want to help prevent others from experiencing that burden.”

Final Words

In the spirit of February: Black History Month, Valentines Day, and Ron and Sarah’s anniversary; in addition to their 20 year meeting anniversary in the state for lovers; I asked Ron and Sarah to give 5 tips to partners in love, going into partners in business? They responded:

“ 1) Communicate often and set specific times to meet with each other about the business just like you do with others. 2) Be open to listen to each other’s wild ideas without judgment. 3) Choose a leader and/or agree on delegating specific tasks. 4) Cover for each other (professionally, emotionally) when needed. 5) Have a shared calendar to help you stay on one page.” 

To learn more about Sarah, Ron, and LOCKGREEN, visit their website: https://www.lock-green.com/

Veronica Castillo, published writer known as the Traveling Cannabis Writer. She was born and raised in Miami, and recently retired from road life after 5 years of traveling the United States and the Caribbean on a mission to learn and educate on all things plant medicine. Though her body of published work is mainly in cannabis, Veronica is passionate about plant based lifestyles. She lost 95 pounds, began her healing journey, and treated her migraines with a plant based lifestyle. 

Her Where to Eat Vegan Series explores vegan menus and plates, helping travelers navigate their plant based lifestyles on the road.  Follow her on IG at @vee_travelingvegcannawriter and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vee-traveling-veg-canna-writer/ 


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