Terrapin, JARS Cannabis launch scholarship program for minority cannabis entrepreneurs

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GRAND RAPIDS — Terrapin Care Station and JARS Cannabis are partnering with Higher Learning Institutions to launch a year-long professional development program for minority entrepreneurs looking to get into the cannabis industry.

The Cannabis Community Social Equity Scholarship will be available to 20 people. Anyone can apply, but applicants will be prioritized if they are from a community that has been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition, they have marijuana-related convictions, or have been registered as a primary caregiver in Michigan.

“The war on drugs disproportionately affected many groups and communities in Michigan,” Terrapin CEO Chris Woods said in a statement. “We feel a responsibility to help right those wrongs, and create pathways into the legal cannabis industry for those who were targeted the most.”

Terrapin has been working with Pontiac-based Higher Learning Institutions by providing tours and learning opportunities for students at its Grand Rapids growing and processing facility. Higher Learning Institutions is a licensed vocational and technical school for cannabis and has graduated 100 students since it opened in February 2020.

The 20 recipients of the Cannabis Community Social Equity Scholarship will go through an accelerated program that includes education on cultivation, extraction, cannabis consultation and business affairs related to licensing. The program will include facility tours, guest lectures and one-on-one mentorship with industry professionals. 

“JARS Cannabis is proud to support social equity efforts in Michigan through its new partnership with Higher Learning Institutions,” Niccole Milton, director of social equity and community involvement at JARS Cannabis, said in a statement. “We seek to empower individuals who are eager to work in this growing industry and feel confident that this new partnership program will cultivate professional opportunities that will allow those who have been disproportionately affected by the marijuana prohibition to do so.”

Terrapin has invited other cannabis companies to join efforts with Higher Learning Institutions so additional scholarships could be offered. When Higher Learning announced the program internally on Feb. 8, the organization immediately received word from more than a dozen individuals interested in the program. 

In addition to pledging funds to expand the scholarship program, JARS Cannabis will also offer a general admissions scholarship to cover the cost of individual courses including cannabis consultation, cultivation, and extraction, as well as facilitate professional development and career opportunities for Higher Learning Institutions’ students.

Fluresh LLC in Grand Rapids also created a mentorship program to educate people of color who are interested in getting into the cannabis industry. The Fluresh Five Accelerator graduated its first cohort at the end of 2021 and is hosting the program again this year.

As well, Kalamazoo Valley Community College recently announced an eight-week certification program designed to prepare a new workforce for the state’s booming cannabis industry.

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