2020 Newsmaker of the Year: First cannabis retailer networks with community allies

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Tom Benson Courtesy Fluresh

CATEGORY: Retail

WINNER: Tom Benson

COMPANY: Fluresh

Fluresh made history in 2020 by becoming Grand Rapids’ first licensed medical cannabis provision center at the beginning of the year, but the Adrian-based company didn’t stop there.

Fluresh also became the first adult-use retailer for Grand Rapids in October, nearly two full years after voters legalized cannabis for recreational use in the state of Michigan.

“This is a milestone moment not only for Grand Rapids but for all who have pioneered Michigan’s cannabis legalization movement,” said Tom Benson, CEO of Fluresh. “Fluresh is honored to be the first retailer to provide residents of this great community and surrounding area with access to high-quality cannabis products.”

Fluresh also made its mark by being a company committed to diversity across West Michigan’s budding adult-use industry. For example, the company and the Black and Brown Cannabis Guild (BBCG) sponsored the National Expungement Week Drive-Up Clinic in Grand Rapids to provide expungement resources for those who have been convicted of low-level crimes.

Fluresh also collaborated with BBCG, LINC UP and Disability Advocates of Kent County in 2020 to actively recruit and retain a diverse pool of job applicants, especially those negatively impacted by the war on drugs within the 49507 ZIP code area.

“We are building on community relationships while addressing gaps in the industry’s diversity,” Benson said. “Fluresh is grateful for our ongoing relationship with groups like LINC UP, Black & Brown Cannabis Guild and other community organizations who have assisted in driving qualified talent to our doors, and we will continue that progress to assure we represent an equitable and inclusive cannabis industry.”

Click here to read about the other winners of the 2020 Newsmakers of the Year.

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