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City of Muskegon uses cannabis social-equity program to promote training

MUSKEGON, Mich. -- The City of Muskegon says it is using a social-equity program to promote training for people who want to launch a business in the local cannabis industry.

More than $200,000 already had been budgeted by the city for expungement of marijuana convictions, community education, and business development support. The social equity program has received a portion of the more than $1 million in state of Michigan’s marijuana tax revenues received by the city. It helps citizens harmed by past prohibition laws before medical and recreational marijuana became legal in the state.

More information from a Shoreline City news release:

More than $200,000 has so far been budgeted by the city for expungement of marijuana convictions, community education, business development support and now training for those wanting to work or start a business in the local cannabis industry.

The latest social equity expenditures were $5,000 scholarships so city residents could take the Higher Learning Institutions’ 10-week course on owning or working in a business in the marijuana industry. Greenroom Gardens – a black-owned marijuana production business at 1839 Peck – has become host of the first Higher Learning Institutions Muskegon class that began in April.

“I had trouble in the past with marijuana, and now that it is legal I want to have more knowledge about the industry,” Devon Goins said about the Higher Learning course work. He is taking the citysupported training along with Danny Lane, LaQuan Williams and Rickey Holden.

“I might be interested in starting a small company in the future and branch out from there,” said Goins, who works for Greenroom Gardens co-owned by his father and two others.

Greenroom Gardens and the Higher Learning Institutions’ cannabis training is exactly what Muskegon Vice Mayor Willie German said he has wanted from a city social equity program.

“This all falls back on the prior prohibition of marijuana,” German said. “A lot of people who were in the black and brown communities went to prison for marijuana. Once legalized, this is an opportunity to make it right.”

Greenroom Gardens is a business of Marcus Collins, Idris Golden and Creighton Goins – each owner who had been incarcerated for marijuana offenses. The business began with Michigan’s medical marijuana law and has grown with the legalization of recreational use. The company is working on opening a retail dispensary on Peck Street and another production facility to produce eatables and infused products. A city social equity grant helped the company with local and state cannabis business application fees.

Now with eight employees in a growing company, Greenroom Gardens has partnered with the city and the Higher Learning Institutions in Pontiac to provide cannabis industry training. The Higher Learning Institutions curriculum includes business development, cultivation, extraction, hemp, cannabis consultation and cooking with cannabis.

“This used to be on the ‘black market’ but now it is out in the open,” Golden said of cannabis production, sales and use. “These educational classes let you learn it all to get a nice paying job or for you to start your own business. The classes are good for the whole community.”

A second round of Higher Learning Institution Muskegon classes will be offered in September from a company founded by Sammie Rogers on the eastside of the state that is bringing cannabis training to urban communities.

“This is training that is open to all members of the community,” said Henrietta Hadley, a local business consultant working for Greenroom Gardens. “But Muskegon is the first city across the state to use its cannabis revenues to support social equity scholarships. This is a new industry and Muskegon is a leader in Michigan.”

The website for Higher Learning Institutions is at https://yourhigherlearning.com and Greenroom Gardens at https://greenroomgardens.net .


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