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Cannabis retailer in Grand Rapids helps bring improvements to nearby transit site

Pharmhouse Wellness

A local cannabis retailer helped lead the effort, to bring new improvements to a transit stop that merges passenger safety and accessibility with art.

The new transit stop is located on the intersection of Wealthy and Front Street and features a raised, barrier free platform known as a zicla. It allows for easier bus access for wheelchair users and room for decorative flower planters. In addition, the stop also includes new bike lanes, painted signal boxes, and benches for passengers.

Casey Kornoelje is the CEO and founder of Pharmhouse Wellness.

As a participant of Michigan's Social Equity Program, Kornoelje received a discount on some of the businesses annual state licensing fees. The program aims to “help people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement.”

Kornoelje said with the funds saved, Pharmhouse Wellness was able to help support the transit stop and make good on promises he made to the neighborhood.

“It’s an example that, that a neighborhood can be a more friendly and attractive place with a cannabis retailer, and with a cannabis grow right in the mix and can be even better than it was before we got here,” he said.

Kornoelje said the project aligns with the city of Grand Rapids’ Good Neighbor plan as well as Pharmhouse Wellness’ own social equity plan.

Specifically, he said he wanted the transit stop to help people disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs by offering them easier access to transportation.

"Doing these things in our own way is reversing some of those wrongs and some of the prohibition on cannabis, and that is a little bit different of a way to look at it than other people's social equity plans," he said. "I think they will first point to an expungement fair, or maybe they'll point to cash back for somebody...so [the transit stop] is just unique in that sense."

Kornoelje attributes the success of the project and Farmhouse Wellness' equity plan to Lynée Wells, the CEO and founder of Aligned Planning.

"We wanted to look at a systems levels approach and not just somebody's record, but how they live their life everyday and what are the things that we can we do to improve their day to day experience," Wells said.

The transit stop also provides nearby residents at Exodus Place, a transitional housing facility located on the corner of Wealthy and Front, a safe place to wait for the bus.

The project was completed through a public-private partnership that includes Downtown Grand Rapids Inc, the Rapid, and other Grand Rapids entities.

The transit stop will serve as a test site for new stops in the city.

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