New resources are available to aid the cannabis industry in West Michigan.
Jamie Cooper launched an all-in-one platform, Cannabiz Connection, in January. The company helps entrepreneurs who are interested in starting their own medical marijuana practice.
Cannabiz Connection is an online website that provides updates on new and changing regulations, and networking opportunities for individuals who want to start their own cannabis business. It also provides an outlet for those who offer medical marijuana services and products to support the industry, according to Cooper.
“Cannabis is a highly regulated industry,” Cooper said. “After working in the industry for three years now, I realize that there needs to be a platform like this because I was once that person who was trying to figure out how to do it, who to talk to, what were the regulations, and so I wanted to build a place where people can find that information easily.”
Cooper said the online services are free to business professionals who create their own profiles, but service providers have to pay if they want to market their products and/or services in the industry.
She also creates content for service providers to inform and help the public build businesses. Her website will not be the only place people can network. Cooper said she plans to host quarterly events where people can meet face to face.
Zach Eldridge, chief operating officer of Living Tree, is a cannabis caregiver for five patients who suffer from chronic illnesses, such as cancer, Crohn’s disease and other chronic pains.
He is in the process of acquiring his cultivation and processing license, which Eldridge said will allow his company to take his product and brand into a regulated market to reach a wider variety of medical marijuana patients in the state of Michigan.
“Many people who use medical marijuana weren't potheads before they got into it,” Eldridge said. “The real, true patients we try to work with are the ones who have medical conditions that we can try to treat and help better their conditions.”
Eldridge said he has been working with Cooper for a couple of years. He said she has been beneficial in his ability to network with people who are experts in the cannabis industry, such as a medical specialist — like a regional hospice nurse manager — whom Eldridge said helped educate him on the type of flower to pick, the proper ratio of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), the proper dosage and how that medication might interact with other medications the patient may be taking.
Now that Cooper has started her online business, Eldridge said it will be very resourceful on his journey to acquiring his license.
“Now that she has her website, I don’t have to bother her,” Eldridge said. “I can just log right on and search through the database and see different posts. Once we do receive a license, we’ll be able to go there as a business and post and say, ‘Hey, we are looking to hire cultivation assistants, we are looking to hire trimmers.’
“People can have a place where they can connect with me and send me a résumé. Having it being a Michigan cannabis database, it will end up being a resource for us along the way.”
Medical marijuana was legalized in the state of Michigan in 2013. Michigan is one of 30 states to legalize marijuana. According to Medical Marijuana Inc., medical and recreational marijuana is a $7.1-billion industry.
Cooper said she believes when summer arrives, her online platform will be “very robust.”