Terrapin Pennsylvania addresses social equity in cannabis industry

HARRISBURG – For the second year, Terrapin Pennsylvania, with a medical marijuana facility in South Avis, has sponsored a two-day educational conference held at the Pennsylvania State Capitol to counter the social disparities that exist in the emerging medical cannabis industry.

“Social equity is the elephant in the room for the entire cannabis industry,” explained Chris Woods, founder, owner and chief executive of Terrapin Care Station. “As support for cannabis reform spreads nationally, the conversation has expanded to address social inequities already prevalent in this brand-new industry. The issue has taken over on the presidential campaign trail as candidates seek to end systemic disparities. We’re taking a proactive approach by providing the education needed to open the doors of opportunity in this rapidly expanding business sector.”

Held August 14-15, the educational program introduced college students from minority and typically underserved communities, including individuals affiliated with Pennsylvania’s two Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to information and potential career opportunities related to Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana industry.

Several of the students who attended are pursuing degrees in biology, business, communications, engineering, journalism and pre-law. Sessions ranged from the science behind medical marijuana and the regulatory process to entrepreneurship and industry opportunities. Students heard directly from legislative leaders and medical researchers who explained the medical efficacy of cannabis. A panel discussion on the community impact of cannabis featured a Harrisburg City Council member who was involved in the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, the CEO of Impact Harrisburg, a financial arm of the City of Harrisburg, and Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Pardons who discussed the public policy behind decriminalizing cannabis and the impact of cannabis on disadvantaged communities.

The issue of equity in the cannabis industry has reached a boiling point nationally. Presidential candidates and elected leaders are calling for greater opportunity for those who have been left behind due to a failed war on drugs. In New York, for example, the equity issue played a significant role in delaying legalization. It has also been a contributing factor to delayed action in New Jersey. If the cannabis industry does not start to address social equity, then legalization will fail to advance in a timely fashion. Terrapin Pennsylvania feels it is important to accelerate the conversation.

“Our conference is a vehicle for introducing Pennsylvania’s new medical cannabis industry to members of underserved communities,” said Mary Powell, principal in Powell Law and organizer of the conference. “The goal is to offer hands-on education and relationship-building that will stimulate more diverse employment opportunities and entrepreneurship in a field that has been traditionally inaccessible to minority communities.”

An industry leader, Terrapin Pennsylvania is proud to have a grower/processor permit for Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program and a commitment to promoting diversity in its operations and outreach. At its Clinton County facility, Terrapin Pennsylvania employs about 50 Pennsylvanians who grow, process and package medical marijuana, more than half of them women and more than 30 percent veterans.

Terrapin Pennsylvania also contracts with female and minority-owned businesses for transportation, public relations, catering services, graphic illustrations and other services. Terrapin regularly conducts need assessments for small, women and minority-owned businesses and has taken steps to create a pipeline of opportunities for historically underserved communities.

Terrapin Pennsylvania began providing medical cannabis products to permitted dispensaries across Pennsylvania in April 2018. In addition to providing quality cannabis at an affordable price, Terrapin Pennsylvania has prioritized community engagement and corporate responsibility as part of its core mission. Whether it’s working with elected officials and policymakers, contributing to nonprofits, Chambers, community and civic groups, or establishing best practices for marketing and production, Terrapin has set itself apart.

“Terrapin is proud to be a minority-owned company with one of the most diverse workforces in the country,” Woods added. “We will continue to develop the pool of minority, women, veteran and businesses seeking new opportunities in order to change the equation on social equity in the industry.”