Because Jarred Biggs’s family owned small businesses in Middleville for decades, his hometown was his first choice when it came time for the longtime marijuana caregiver and grower to open the Botanical Co. dispensary. Tune in to hear Biggs and Jimmy Strunk, director of sales for the national brand Pablo, talk about their long road to success, the challenges of the cannabis industry, and their take on how to bring more equity into this business.
What is it like to be one of the few people of color in the state, in the cannabis industry?
BIGGS: My family’s from Middleville and we have other family businesses in Middleville. Just to be able to continue that tree with my own business was awesome, and seeing the village stood behind me and they chose somebody like me … blew me away. I couldn’t explain how happy I was once I found out that I got it.
I honestly don’t know any other African American owners in the cannabis industry that aren’t a celebrity or a professional athlete. I want to show other African Americans and young people that it is possible.
Talk about your journey through the industry.
BIGGS: Originally, I started growing about 13 years ago. I had a caregiver’s card so I was able to legally grow for patients. Today, I still own a grow facility in Edmore, Michigan. But knowing I want to own more businesses, I hired a head grower, and then I started working on some other things. The same day as our grand opening of BoCo in Middleville, I launched our national brand of cannabis called Pablo.
There have been a slew of equity initiatives and programs rolled out the last couple of years that have produced lackluster results to diversify ownership in the industry. Why aren’t these programs working? What could be done to improve them?
BIGGS: My investors and I have put millions of dollars into our cannabis businesses. The grant funding or equity funding does not even cover application or licensing fees, which are extremely expensive. Most younger people and people of color don’t have the investment backing nor mentorship to move the dream to reality.