Two Michigan dispensaries have developed new programs to give back to their communities, one through direct cash subsidies and another by offering business development assistance. Grand Rapids-based Fluresh and Flint-based Common Citizen have each created programs to diversify the cannabis industry and are looking to give financial assistance to areas disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs, respectively.
Common Citizen announced Thursday that it would award $500,000 in microgrants to arts and culture initiatives, start-up businesses and charitable nonprofits to reinvest in communities harmed by drug war policies. Each grant is worth $5,000 each and applications begin later this month.
The three microgrant programs are funded by Principle, Common Citizen’s pre-roll product and community reinvestment program. Each microgrant will fall into three categories: Culture, to support arts and culture initiatives, Common Principle Startup Accelerator to support early business development aimed at minority entrepreneurs, and the Common Principle Community Impact microgrant to support nonprofits.
Common Citizen says net profit from their Principle branded pre-rolls will fund the microgrants and other social initiatives.
Jessica Jackson, Common Citizen’s Director of External Affairs and Social Equity, spoke at a Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency Social Equity event about the importance of the program, saying that there was a need for greater social change. The company on Facebook says it plans to make over $1 million in economic and social equity initiatives in Michigan communities most affected by drug policies.
“These grants will help address ongoing inequities by investing in the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, access to home ownership, public infrastructure improvements and empowering voices in the policymaking process,” Jackson said.
In addition to a new program, Fluresh has been operating its Accelerator program since last January. Accelerator provided over a dozen mentorships to aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs earlier this year. In the last batch of 60 applicants, 10 individuals were selected for their mentorship program.
The 10-month program provides ten people with access to facilities and relationships across the industry to help fast track a way into the industry. Participants will go through in-person and virtual seminars and trips to various sites to explore the workings of cannabis facilities and learn about the application and licensing process.
Alvin J. Hills, a business developer for Grand Rapids and entrepreneur, said he chose the program to learn about possibly investing in the industry in the future.
“The mentorship, I think, is priceless,” said Hill. “I think in our area, some people are still warming up to the idea of cannabis as a business opportunity.”