We've been careful in our approach with the marijuana industry. With the legalization of marijuana in Michigan, there was an instant flood of product on the market and not an awful lot of knowledge about things like how much is too much, how the products are sourced and how companies came in with substantial investments which are really beneficial, but lacked some of that educational stuff on proper use. We're judgement free, it's a legal product now and for those who choose, or use for medicinal purposes they have seen it as a long time coming.
Legalization created opportunity. For some, that opportunity seemed out of reach because licensing and regulations are steep. It's also a struggle for upstart entrepreneurs as a lot of banking institutions won't work with the cannabis industry because federally, it's still illegal. Lending is difficult and non traditional banks are often where those who are trying to establish a business have to look for some help. In Muskegon, there's a group however that looked inward for the opportunity and asked those in their community to believe in a project, invest in the chance and build a business together....and it's happening.
Green Room Gardens is a growing operation that's come to be by friends, neighbors, relatives and investors who are ready to get past the stigma of what was around marijuana and work to build a profitable and sustaining business for themselves and others. People dug deep to be a part of the investment and in return the growers at Green Room Gardens are taking what they are learning as they "grow" and they are offering to help others to learn how they can work with the City and State of Michigan to use some of the social justice incentives that are being offered for those who have been disproportionality affected by prior marijuana laws. Some of whom have been arrested multiple times over non violent crimes and ensued the costs that come with being arrested. Yes, it was illegal at the time. A look back over history however, and the realization that prohibition didn't do much more than create criminals out of people who just wanted a beer probably wasn't such a net positive and some of the consequences of marijuana possession at one point....they could cause people to lose everything. Housing, kids, savings.....all of it. Some who have felony convictions over marijuana still can't get past a job application. The law is the law, but hindsight being 20/20....it seems pretty steep.
The goal at Green Room Gardens is simple. Let go of what was, and get to work on building a sustainable business with good paying jobs and opportunity for those who want to go after it. They have a strong start and they are also going to be offering classes to those who need to know how to manage the system to get the help from the City and State on things like grants, permit relief percentages, how to grow successfully and more. I was able to sit down with three of the primary people in the group. Idris Golden, Marcus Collins and Creighton Goins to learn more and hear their mission. Take a listen.
It's still not a product for everyone. That's understood. It is however pretty remarkable to see an effort like this being pulled together by those who have had some pretty awful experiences around marijuana and most likley continue to work "on the side". However, Green Room Gardens is taking this opportunity to make an investment into the entire community with their work as well as share their knowlege with those who want to get into business fo themselves and away from the constant pressure and fear of working illegally. You'll find both the State and City Social Equity Programs linked below.