GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For the third year in a row, a Grand Rapids cannabis business is looking to give residents a behind-the-scenes look at the industry with hands-on experience.
The Cannabis Entrepreneurship Program will give five applicants the chance to learn from Fluresh about how to enter and be a member in the cannabis market. The program was started to help create “a more just and inclusive industry.”
“What you find in the cannabis industry, is this push for a social equity policy,” Fluresh’s general counsel and chief regulatory counsel Shoran Reid Williams told News 8. “And the theory behind the social equity policy is that Black and brown communities have been decimated by the war on drugs and so those powers that be thought that having a social equity arm to the burgeoning cannabis industry could help to undo some of those wrongs.”
Williams said she is concerned with providing opportunities specifically to those who live in the 49507 zip code, where Fluresh is headquartered. While the program will focus on cannabis, her main hope is to inspire change in the community.
“I don’t care if anyone from 49507 decides to be in the cannabis industry,” she said. “I care much more about making 49507, and communities like it, having better parks, creating avenues for people in those communities to have ways out of that condition, out of those circumstances.”
The five people selected by Fluresh will see how the company operates over the course of nine months. Some of the training will include learning about the industry, technical assistance and understanding the regulations cannabis businesses operate under. But the majority of the program will focus on what the individuals are most interested in, Williams said.
Previous participants have stayed on to work with Fluresh or used the experience to find new employment. Jessica Austin, who completed the program in 2021, is now the owner of Creative Carvings, which makes fruit bowls and arrangements, in Grand Rapids.
“The Fluresh Cannabis Entrepreneur Program helped me on my cannabis entrepreneurial journey,” Austin said in a release from Fluresh. “The key sessions helped me identify how I can thrive in the cannabis industry through networking and educational opportunities. The connections I’ve made and the things I’ve learned about the cannabis industry started here.”
Though participants will get a first-hand look at how Fluresh operates, Williams said the company isn’t worried about creating new competitors. The idea is to educate as many people about cannabis as possible.
“Obviously we’re not opening up the kitchen to our competitors, but for people who want to gain experience, we really do give a very unvarnished look under the hood,” she said.
Applications for the program will be accepted until Dec. 2. The five people selected to participate will be notified a week later. You can find more information on how to apply by clicking here.