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How One Entrepreneur Went From Credit Repair to Becoming Michigan’s First POC Dispensary Owner

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When Earl Carruthers was captain of the Wayne State University football team, he cracked his pelvis, leading to chronic pain. After graduation, he worked as a resource supervisor for UPS and then a financial adviser for JP Morgan before starting a credit repair business. Next, he wanted to start another business that was more product-focused and kept customers coming back rather than serving them just once. 

Since he’d been looking up natural remedies for the pain associated with his cracked pelvis, he thought about creating an anti-inflammatory supplement for athletes. In his research, he learned about cannabis. He hadn’t actually heard of it before and didn’t even know it was marijuana. But it sounded like it could be a fit both for his business and for his own personal use, so he signed up for an eight-week course at a local cannabis college.

That was where he learned what cannabis was, as well as some basic facts like the difference between indica and sativa strains. He also learned how to start growing it legally in his home state of Michigan

Carruthers had avoided smoking because he’d been taught negative things about cannabis, such as that it was addictive. But his girlfriend at the time, who is now his wife, smoked cannabis daily. She rolled his first blunt, and he smoked for the first time with her. 

Once he’d learned about the technicalities of growing cannabis and realized it wasn’t the life-ruining drug he’d been taught it was, Carruthers became a caregiver — someone who provides medical cannabis for up to five patients and oneself. 

His patients included himself, his girlfriend, his mother (who had been diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia), and his father (who was recovering from quadruple heart bypass surgery). Once he started growing more than he could use, he considered starting a delivery service. 

“I took what I’d learned as an entrepreneur and ran a delivery service that way,” he explained. Once it got busy, he realized he needed an office, so he repurposed the office he was using for his credit repair business to take appointments. “It kind of got weird, because the smell doesn’t go away,” he said with a laugh.

To avoid suspicious questions from credit repair customers, he got a separate suite for each business. Other caregivers also began using his medical cannabis office to meet with patients, so it turned into a collective of sorts. He called this collective the Green Greener Grow, and it later grew into the G3 Cannabis Therapy Network. This was technically a dispensary (legally called “provisioning centers” in Michigan), making him the first person of color to own a cannabis dispensary in Michigan. 

Trouble with the Law

That was not an easy position to attain. While he was selling cannabis brownies to patients, Carruthers was arrested and sent to jail on the premise that the edibles were illegal narcotics. Rather than count how much cannabis they contained — which was within the limits of the law — the prosecution counted the total weight of the brownies. 

“I was confused as to why they were trying to create a criminal,” he recalled. “I thought there were enough black people in jail.” The labels on his products that designated them as medical marijuana were blacked out with marker, and the trial was treated as if he had been selling drugs for recreational purposes. 

On top of that, an undercover cop with a fake medical marijuana card, cashier’s check, and ID pretended to be a medical cannabis patient and signed his membership agreement, leading him to get raided. “The jury perceived me as another black guy with marijuana, and I was found guilty and had to go to jail,” he remembered. He was there for 33 days, then was sentenced to five years probation. 

Even after the conviction, he continued to fight the brownie case all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court. While there wasn’t a change to his charges, the case inspired new legislation in Michigan that included a mathematical equation to calculate the amount of “usable material” in cannabis products such as edibles and oil extractions. He also continued to fight the dispensary case involving the undercover cop for almost four years until all charges were dismissed.

Not Easy Being Green

Needless to say, Carruthers, who now runs the Cannabis Therapy Potcast, has learned that “the grass is not always greener on the other side” (no pun intended) — working in cannabis isn’t easier than working in another area.

“You have to have a nice risk tolerance because it’s a very volatile and risky and changing environment, and you will have to step in and be in it for the long haul,” he said. “I think the only way to be really strapped in is to really have a purpose other than to make money.” 

For him, that purpose was combatting the war on drugs and the racism implicit in it, plus advocating for personal autonomy. “It was more about furthering the movement of normalizing cannabis,” he said. “And when you have that purpose, you can handle a lot of the bumps and bruises that you’re going to get.”

However, he wishes he’d been more prepared for how fast-paced the industry was so that he could gather the resources, education, and network to weather the storm. “One year in the cannabis industry is like seven years,” he said. One thing in particular he didn’t realize he’d need to learn was how the government and the law work, both on the federal and local level, since the cannabis industry is so heavily regulated. 

Tiffany Hoven, director of operations at The Grove, a vertical cannabis operation that includes cultivation, production, distribution, and retail stores, agrees that education is key for entering the cannabis industry.

“The more you know about this plant, the better you can understand each and every position within this booming industry. Understanding cannabinoids and terpenes is vital to understanding the products,” she said. “The stronger your base when it comes to education in this field, the easier it is to transition into a solid employee in the cannabis arena.” 

There are lots of opportunities relevant to many different skill sets, though, so you don’t be intimidated if you don’t have previous experience in cannabis.

“The cannabis industry is huge and growing and includes all parts, including but not limited to cultivation, production, retail, sales, and distribution,” Hoven said. “All of these positions are trainable, so when a candidate is able to adapt easily, learn, and grow quickly, even better. Computer knowledge is a plus when it comes to managerial or admin positions, and of course, experience in your field and management when it comes to department lead positions.”

If you can handle the challenges that come with transitioning into the cannabis industry, Carruthers believes they will ultimately benefit you.

“I’m thankful for the obstacles and for the setbacks and the hurdles you have to overcome because you build character,” he said. “You build perseverance, and no one can take that away from you. They can take your money, take your bank account, they can change legislation, but they can’t take away your perseverance. They cannot take away your will.” 

After running up against many obstacles of his own, Carruthers has only become more determined to stay in and change the industry.

“You will not hear the last of me,” he vowed. “I am in this industry to stay. I will adapt, and I will adjust, and I will go from there.”

Feature image: Earl Carruthers, second from right, stands with Democratic Michigan state Rep. Jewell Jones, third from right, and Michigan Medical Marijuana Association Director Jesse Riggs, right. Carruthers, a former college football player turned financial adviser and entrepreneur, is the first African American cannabis dispensary owner in Michigan. He is also joined by Margeaux Bruner, Political Director of the Michigan Cannabis Industries Association, second from left, and two Students for Sensible Drug Policy members wearing National Expungement Week T-shirts. Taken at Oakland Community College in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan during National Expungement Week 2019. (Photo courtesy of Komorn Law) 



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California’s vague new financial regulation law – Orange County Register

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Assembly Bill 1864 didn’t get much media or public attention as it zipped through both houses of the Legislature on the last day of the 2020 session.

Superficially, it appeared merely to reconfigure the state’s financial regulatory agencies into a new entity called the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.

However, those in California’s vast financial industry were paying lots of attention because the bill creates an entirely new regulatory regime with broad powers, including fines of up to $1 million a day, to police financial players that hitherto have had little oversight.

The official rationale for the legislation is that President Donald Trump’s administration neutered the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, so the state must step in with an equivalent to guard against predatory financial practices that harm consumers.

The new California Consumer Financial Protection Law gives the reconstituted agency authority to go after “abusive practices” whose definition in the law is fairly vague. Thus, the agency itself will define the term as it also decides which businesses will face its scrutiny.

It appears that the new law will affect firms involved in debt settlement, credit repair, check cashing, rent-to-own contracts, payday lending, student loan servicing and financing for retail sales. However, its primary target seems to be financial services offered by non-banks, particularly what are called “fintech companies” that offer bank-like services via the Internet without maintaining physical offices.

Fintechs, many of them based in the San Francisco Bay Area, have blossomed in recent years as part of the digital economy, competing with traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Their disruptive nature is not unlike the challenge that technology-based ride services such as Uber and Lyft pose to taxicabs and buses.

Late-blooming changes in AB 1864 exempted traditional financial firms that are already regulated, such as banks and credit unions, from the new consumer protection law, leading some analysts to conclude that its unstated aim is to help them stave off competition from new kids on the financial block.

The vagueness of the new law was encapsulated in what Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a signing ceremony. The new law and the new department, he said, will “create conditions for innovation to flourish in a way where we can steward that and we can just work against its excesses. So we support risk-taking, not recklessness.”

Newsom also signed two other financial protection measures, one that requires debt collectors to be licensed beginning in 2022 and the other creating a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights.

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Erie Homecoming 2020 to take place virtually

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Erie Homecoming 2020: “Erie’s Economic Evolution” is happening this week.

Erie Homecoming is an event that shares the vision of where we are going as a business community and the specific projects that will be taking us there.

Yoselin Person was live outside of the Erie Regional Chamber to tell us more about what’s taking place at this year’s homecoming.

Get your favorite hot drink because Erie Homecoming is happening virtually. 

Rooms full of people just aren’t happening in the midst of a pandemic, so Erie Homecoming is an event that will inspire you from comfort of your home or office.

The purpose of homecoming is to give attendees the opportunity to learn how they can invest in the Erie community.

During this two day event, you will be able to learn how you can invest the time, talent and treasure in creating a more diverse and prosperous Erie community.

Erie’s Black Wall Street will be featured this year. It’s a nonprofit organization that’s known for improving black business.

“So, having it geared towards helping black businesses expand and spread their wings, I think that’s amazing,” said Alexandria Ellis, owner, She Vintage.

Ellis began her business six months ago. She says Erie Black Wall Street is a safe space where black entrepreneurs can connect and collaborate with others.

The organization also helps others with credit repair.

“They’ve helped me by connecting me with resources if someone is looking for a nail tech or a boutique that’s black owned, they have connected customers of their clients to me through their organization,” said Ellis.

Speakers from the black owned organization will speak about creating regional equity.

There will also be a discussion about Flagship Opportunity Zones and what it means in terms of tax and other investment incentives.

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RiverBend Growth Association announces new members | Business

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RiverBend Growth Association encourages use of face coverings

The RiverBend Growth Association announces its new members:

5 Diamond Campground

Brian Campbell and Matt Diamond

2 Fun Lane

Hartford IL 62048

(618) 254-1180

facebook.com/5-Diamond-Campground-103976501423687

Alton Pride Inc.

Jason Heeren, director of sponsorship

P.O. Box 662

Alton IL 62002

(618) 204-7420

https://altonpride.com

Alton Pride is a charitable and educational organization established to bring awareness, understanding, and advocacy to the LGBTQ+ community with an emphasis on the specific needs of the youth within the community. We are setting ourselves apart from other Pride organizations by focusing on giving back to our community, rather than hosting just a parade or festival. We will be depositing a majority of event proceeds into a structured account funding our goal to develop a local teen suicide prevention line and a teen resource center to help youth in need.

 

Imo’s Pizza – Bethalto

Lori Bromberg, president/treasurer and managing partner

515 N. Bellwood

Bethalto IL 62010

(618) 258-0011

www.imospizza.com

Bethalto Imo’s is owned by Charles and Barbara (Babs) Pelan. Barbara was a nurse and Charles has had a varied career but has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. He and Babs purchased the Bethalto Imo’s in 2013 and seeing the success of the brand and the store in Bethalto were anxious to purchase the Edwardsville Imo’s franchise in 2014.

Their daughter, Lori Bromberg, is the managing partner and provides leadership and daily oversight to the business. Lori has a bachelor of science degree in management and has 31-plus years in corporate leadership roles, including customer experience, supply chain, distribution strategy, change management, hr/talent management, training and safety. Lori also is a certified mentor for SCORE providing mentoring and coaching to small businesses.

While it is our goal to have a financially successful business, we believe the cornerstones to achieving success is ensuring a superior product and customer experience, investment in our employees, positive contributions to our community, while demonstrating a strong commitment to safety. We pride ourselves on our commitment to Imo’s corporate mission, “To maintain the Imo’s tradition of uncompromising quality, pride in Imo’s products, and passion for success and for customers to experience a genuine, original St. Louis pizza of the highest quality, served in a pleasant atmosphere or at home, so that they too will have reason to say: “Imo’s is my favorite pizza.”

If you frequent our Bethalto location, we will be moving down the street a little over a mile, still on 111, within the next month or so.  We will continue to have delivery and pick-up as well as offer new patio seating.

 

Lewis and Clark Community College Foundation Inc.

Mark Kratschmer, president

5800 Godfrey Road, ER 0210

Godfrey IL 62035

(618) 468-2010

www.lc.edu/About_the_Foundation/

The Lewis and Clark Community College Foundation is a nonprofit corporation organized under the laws of the state of Illinois. The foundation supports Lewis and Clark Community College and its students through scholarships, awards, and other assistance.

Piasa Body Art

Cody Hinkle, owner

560 E. Broadway

Alton IL 62002

(618) 462-1720

Alton’s best body art shop, offering tattoos and piercing services. Now with The Salon for all your hair care and barbering needs!

Prosper Credit Consultants

Jerheart Huntley, owner

525 Wyss Ave.

Alton IL 62002

(877) 503-7465

prospercreditconsultants.com

Credit repair that works! Prosper Credit Consultants uses the most innovative processes to make sure our clients are educated on how credit repair works! Prosper Credit Consultants is dedicated to educating our clients on how to get and keep good credit! We have become a one-stop shop for all things from credit repair, building credit for beginners, trade lines, putting our clients in position to purchase that new car, and home they want. Give us a call (877) 503-7465 or set up a free credit consultation.

The RiverBend Growth Association is the chamber of commerce and economic development organization for the 12 communities known as the Riverbend.  For more information about the Growth Association, visit www.growthassociation.com or call (618) 467-2280.

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