Five Lakes Farm, LLC (the parent company of Pharmhouse Wellness) prioritizes participation in the improvement of the local communities in which we operate by creating growth industry jobs, strategic and local sourcing and financial contributions to impactful community organizations. We believe cannabis social equity is more than a plan or a checkbox—for us it is a deeply held company value.
Five Lakes Farm has partnered with Aligned Planning, a women-owned business enterprise based in Grand Rapids, to assist with this Cannabis Social Equity Plan. While this plan is optional, as Five Lakes Farm qualifies as a City of Grand Rapids Tier 1 Equity Applicant, equity in the industry and in the area where the business is located (John Ball Neighborhood) is a priority. Five Lakes Farm also qualifies as an equity applicant through the State of Michigan.
As a complement to the State of Michigan, Marijuana Regulatory Agency and per Emergency Rule 7(13) Five Lakes Farm is prepared to undertake some or all of the following actions “to promote and encourage participation in the marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionally impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities.”
In addition to the benefits afforded to Five Lakes Farm at the state level, we recognize the local benefit of having Tier 1 status as an Equity Applicant and the potential savings related to reduced permit fees, multi-year licenses, and priority review.
Below is our commitment to social equity as a cannabis business operating in the City of Grand Rapids related to the savings through the State of Michigan fee reductions. Note that once we are more aware of the financial benefit of Equity Applicant status through the City of Grand Rapids, we will be able to provide even more detail within this plan. Nevertheless, we felt it important to share our intentions to honor the Grand Rapids City Commission’s desire for social equity in the cannabis industry.
A policy is currently in place to offer financial contributions through various avenues for both patients and community members. Special consideration is given to those who have been affected by marijuana-related convictions.
Local Impact Fund
Five Lakes Farm has established and begun contributions to a Local Impact Fund to reduce the impact on residents geographically located nearest to the provisioning center. The company operates Pharmhouse Wellness, a marijuana provisioning center located at 831 Wealthy St. SW Grand Rapids. The provisioning center is located in an industrial zone, the “Transitional City Center,” which is reserved primarily for commercial and industrial use. Due to changes over time in City Master Planning, there are currently two Owner Occupied Low-Density Detached Residential homes located east of the provisioning center, sharing a common property line.
Each resident has begun receiving $250/quarterly contributions, or a combined $2,000 annually to defray the impact of marijuana prohibition and enforcement and improve quality of life.
Westpharm Reinvestment Fund
Five Lakes Farm, LLC is owned and operated by an individual who qualifies for an Adult Use marijuana application and annual licensing fee reductions. Per the Marijuana Regulatory Agency a Social Equity guidance, the following fee reduction schedule applies:
-40% fee reduction for having been convicted of a marijuana-related felony.
-10% fee reduction for registration as a primary caregiver under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act for at least two years between 2008-2017.
The ownership team is proposing a Westpharm Reinvestment Fund in partnership with strategic women and/or minority-owned community planning partners and local nonprofit organizations to advance social equity programs and neighborhood-focused initiatives. The Westpharm Reinvestment Fund shall receive annual contributions corresponding to the savings on existing licensure and assessment fee reductions, as well as periodic contributions, should new applications be made in the future. These contributions will assist in the management and oversight of the fund itself, administration of the various equity initiatives, and support for the initiatives.
Example programs that are foreseen that advance social equity within our neighborhood may include:
Legal Services Events
A legal service event would be a quarterly or monthly event with bi-lingual attorneys who can advise neighborhood members, patrons/customers, and others related to topics such as expungement, labor relations, landlord/tenant issues and other associated matters. This service is often something unattainable, and when it is, it may not always be offered in Spanish, which is prevalent in the West Side.
Small Business Training
The path to prosperity lies with ownership opportunities and the ability to take a dream and make it a reality. Recognizing that training is essential to learn the requirements at the local and state levels for small businesses, quarterly training programs would be offered through partnerships with Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses, Local First, SCORE, the SBC and others, as applicable.
Business Façade Grant Program
Many existing businesses struggle for capital to invest in necessary upgrades to their facades and interior improvements to meet building code. In a neighborhood with an aging building stock, investing in upgrading a commercial building can be cost-prohibitive. The Westpharm Reinvestment Fund will provide small grants to help offset the costs of permitting and professional services for code-compliant shop drawings and potentially assist with the improvements.
Home Ownership Training
We have seen during the pandemic the disproportionate effects it has had on communities of color and renters. Owning a home means a safe place. Owning a home means a commitment to a neighborhood. Owning a home means a pathway to prosperity. Owning a home also means financial responsibility. By providing a path to homeownership that begins with training, we want to help community members understand the commitment of a house and property. The Westpharm Reinvestment Fund would also be used to provide “matching funds” for down payment assistance.
Household Façade Grant Program
Like the Business Façade Grant Program, this would focus on owner-occupied housing to provide funds to upgrade the façade and potentially help to improve social cohesion and neighborliness in a community. These ties help to bind us to a place and increase stability and increase homeownership rates.
Mobility/Tactical Urbanism Enhancement
Five Lakes Farm understands the financial impact transportation choices have on a household. Further, Five Lakes Farm sees the benefit of safe street spaces planned and designed for people first, especially people who walk, bike, and use alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles. Options for this enhancement fund may include improved/decorate street space with paint and wayfinding, testing new crosswalk configurations during a quick build event sponsored by Five Lakes Farm, or additional street furniture, including seating, bus shelters and bike repair stations.
Pharmhouse Wellness offers public accommodation practices through a “Redemption Discount” which equates to a standing 5% discount on all products purchased in the store for any qualifying medical patient with a criminal record, including marijuana misdemeanors. A fixed 10% discount is offered on all products for those individuals whose criminal history includes a marijuana felony.
We have partnered with Lansing-based Redemption Cannabis Company led by CEO Ryan Basore. Ryan Basore, a convicted marijuana felon, spent four years in federal prison for the manufacture and distribution of marijuana. Upon release, Ryan led and organized an effort to back the Democratic and pro-cannabis candidate, Dana Nessel, for Attorney General. Redemption Cannabis Company donates a portion of each sale to help support individuals and families who have been disproportionately affected by the war on cannabis.
Five Lakes Farm adheres to LARA/MRA and State of Michigan hiring requirements, including a clean criminal record for the past 10 years. That said, Five Lakes Farm remains committed to providing employment opportunities to individuals impacted by the war on drugs. When recruiting employees and selecting business partners, Five Lakes Farm gives preference to qualified job candidates and business owners who disclose having been charged with marijuana-related crimes and residents who live within the communities identified by the MRA as communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement.
Five Lakes Farm will advertise job opportunities in local non-English language newspapers and websites, radio in Spanish and English, and post flyers in locally-owned and minority-owned businesses to ensure widespread recruitment efforts. Priority will be given to individuals living in a Neighborhood of Focus within the City of Grand Rapids, provided all laws and equal opportunity laws are abided by.
This is evident from the top-down of the organization. Five Lakes Farm is owned and operated by Casey Kornoelje, who has both felony and misdemeanor marijuana criminal records. The Five Lakes Farm Employee Handbook includes statements and policies related to equal opportunity, non-discrimination, and anti-harassment.
In addition to the above specific efforts, we also plan to directly support the disproportionally impacted local communities by working primarily with local contractors/businesses, purchasing supplies locally whenever possible and creating local jobs.
Some of Five Lakes Farm’s key vendors include Healing Organic Garden and Terrapin Care Station. Healing Organic Garden is a woman-led, veteran-owned cannabis company. Both organizations are in Kent County, and Terrapin operates in the City of Grand Rapids. Supporting these vendors aligns with our organization’s goal of supporting employment and the tax bases of Kent County and the City of Grand Rapids.
Opening any business is a learning curve that results in numerous lessons learned. Five Lakes Farm is committed to supporting new businesses and helping provide a mentor/mentee relationship.
Five Lakes Farm is excited to bring our passion for this industry to those areas where we plan to establish ourselves as valued members of the local community and becoming more active members of social equity opportunities in Grand Rapids and across the State.