Florida Native Arby Barroso was born and raised in Hialeah on 42nd street. His parents had immigrated to America in 1959 from Cuba. His Partner and CEO of Green Road, and longtime friend of 20 years, Laura Baldwin Fuentes is also from Hialeah. “I lived on the east side and she lived on the west side. We both came from a place where people don’t generally think entrepreneurs come from however, I think it is one of the most populated areas for entrepreneurship.”, recalls Arby. His father being Cuban instilled a sense of pride in the work that you do and to earn everything you get. His mother feeling he needed some parameters and structure in his life refused to let him go to Hialeah Highschool so instead he went to Monsignor Edward Pace Highschool where he was active in the athletics programs.
He worked several jobs in Miami and eventually got into Real Estate in 1993. Around this time Arby faced a very difficult time in his life, he fractured his hip and ended up in Hialeah Hospital. They kept his hip out of place for 3 days and had him on 32LB’s of traction until they realized their mistake. They immediately sent him to Jackson Memorial Orthopedic Emergency. He was 23 at the time and for some reason they didn’t want to give me a full hip replacement, so they popped his hip back into place and he stayed in the hospital for another 28 days. When he was discharged, he had only about 67% mobility. “At this time everything in my life started to go downhill.” Over the next 4 years I was in extreme pain and on everything from Demerol to Percocet, anything they could offer me at the time”, said Arby.
He soon met Dr Mark Sinnreich who later told him his femur bone was going to break since his femur bone had been out of place for 3 days it wasn’t getting any blood or oxygen. Also, due to the calcification he had to undergo radiation treatment. Before he was finally operated on in 1997 he had gone from 67% mobility 4 years before down to 25%. “I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t put on my pants, I couldn’t put my shoes on, basically I could not do much.”, mentions Arby. Before the operation Dr Sinnreich told Arby he was looking at 3 possible outcomes, either he could die from the operation from all the blood loss, they may have to fuse his leg together, or the surgery would be a success. Arby was athletic, loved to compete when playing sports, always striving to win. He went from that to not being able to do much. He told Dr Sinnreich that if he had to have a fused leg to please not let him wake up. The operation was a success, “God Bless, the operation came out good.”, remarked Arby.
In 2001 his hip popped out of place. It was basically all metal however during this time Arby didn’t have any insurance. Remember, back then the Affordable Care Act didn’t exist so you could be denied for any medical insurance for a pre-existing condition. Even if you had insurance and needed medical treatment you could still be denied treatment if you had any pre-existing condition and forgot to mention, even if it was not related to your current medical condition. Arby now having a pre-existing condition was unable to get any insurance so his first wife, Luciana Damon, at the time had to get a job so he could get covered for insurance. She had to work for 90 days before getting insurance so Arby had to wait 90 days with his hip out of place before he could get another operation. According to Arby it was a complete fiasco.
All during this time he was still in Real Estate. “We did extremely well at that time. We had over 100 employees in 2001 doing investor real estate, investor home loans and we took that all the way to 2008 and the market crashes. We had made enough money to put aside and a friend of mine who is still in Colorado suggest we grow some cannabis. I said not a bad idea”, recalls Arby.
He went to Colorado in 2008 and opened up Candy Shop Hydroponics at 2740 Cannon Blvd. During that time he connected with Chloe Villano and she helped them to acquire a license and in 2010 they later bought their Marijuana Dispensary on South Santa Fe Drive, located in front of the Shell Gas Station. They called their new enterprise “Bud Seller”. By 2012 he was done with Colorado, “It kind of chewed me up and spit me out. It was way too early in the business’, remarked Arby.
During this time, he was traveling back and forth from Colorado to Florida. He was still living in constant pain from his hip. He mentioned that he had never really gotten off of pain killers completely. This was also during the pain epidemic, the Pill Mill Epidemic in Florida. He became wrapped up in that which started a dark chapter in his life. Arby later began managing a pain clinic, so it became much easier for him to get the pain killers he needed. “It was easy access. I never realized how bad those pills could be. It took me down a really dark road.”, said Arby.
In 2010 Arby got arrested for having all of his pain killers in one bottle. He got probation for that offense. In August of 2013 he was arrested again, and he violated probation. He counts himself lucky that he got arrested the second time. “I needed that to wake me completely up”, recalls Arby. Arby spent some time in jail and he took that time to clear his head and he came out of that experience with a new lease on life.
In 2012, Laura Fuentes and Arby had started talking about selling CBD. Being a pharmacist, her co-workers, friends, and family thought she was crazy to even consider the idea. They told her she would lose her license or worse get arrested. In June of 2013 they had partnered together to start what would later be known as Green Roads. During the time Arby was in jail Luara was calling to talk to him about it and she wasn’t getting any returned calls. Jessica, Arby’s current wife, who he was separated from him at the time had to break the news to Laura that Arby was in jail. Arby later got on a phone call with Laura from jail. “Once I get out of here I promise you I will stay clean. To this day, I don’t know why, but she said as long as I stayed clean, she would continue to do business. I don’t know why she gave me that chance because if I had been her, I would not have. When I got out, I saved my marriage and put my family back together. Since that time, I have never looked back.”, according to Arby. To be continued…Read Part 2 in next months issue to learn how Arby turned tragedy into triumph.