Fellowships aim to infuse social equity into the cannabis industry


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Although still young, the cannabis industry is growing in Michigan. A Grand Rapids-based grower and processor is teaming up with another Michigan-based cannabis company to pay it forward by helping to train the workforce of the future.

The groups also work to infuse social equity into a growing business.

“This is something that the cannabis industry has talked about a lot, but we haven’t seen a lot of action on it,” said Peter Marcus, Terrapin’s vice president of communications.

Terrapine is a minority-owned cannabis grower and processor. The company opened the first self-contained marijuana grow facility in the city of Grand Rapids in the summer of 2020.

“If I want to cut hair, I have to get a barber’s license. If I want to do nails, I have to get a cosmetology license…but if we call it cannabis medicine, there’s no license or certification behind it. It didn’t make sense to me,” Sammie Rogers said.

An idea was born when Marcus met Rogers, the founder and president of Institutions of higher education.

“I saw a gaping hole in the industry, especially in the state of Michigan, that there was a lack of workforce development,” Rogers said.

Pontiac’s institutions of higher learning educate future leaders and the workforce of the cannabis industry.

Terrapin has offered up to $20,000 for 20 post-graduate scholarships for people who have been impacted by the War on Drugs.

“When we first talk about social equity, we are talking about those who have been deliberately harmed by a systemically racist and flawed drug policy that governs the states of this country,” Marcus said.

Rogers says several of his family and friends have been arrested with felonies for possession of marijuana. Now that cannabis is legal in Michigan, he thinks it’s time to give these people a chance to thrive and grow into something that once held them back.

“If we just put a little education behind us with this, it will make us look like and become a more serious player in the industry,” Rogers said.

Another Michigan grower, Cannabis POThas also invested in social equity stock exchanges.

The accelerated program will teach cannabis cultivation, extraction, consultation, and business topics such as applying for a license and networking.

“The goal is to build their network and bring them closer to certain people and hopefully we can connect them to better investments or opportunities,” Rogers said.

It’s a win-win for Terrapin. The company is tackling the social equity equation while potentially growing its business and reach.

“We are a wholesaler, so it is beneficial for us to see more dispensaries and to have more trusted partners in the space, because then there is the potential to sell our product in these stores, just as there is has the ability for those people to get into the game themselves,” Marcus said.

More information and the scholarship application can be found in line.

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