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Owners of local marijuana growing and processing facility aim to fill social equity gap in the industry

Posted at 8:38 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 20:38:04-04

(WSYM) —

Inkster will be home to the site of a new 25,500 sq. ft. marijuana grow and process operation, and the people behind this project are aiming to make it about quality, community, and helping erase an unequal past.

Sahir Al-Salam, head of investor relations for Michigan Agricultural Services

"Historically, we've just suffered as a people because of the laws, and because of the scrutiny of the marijuana plant. So now we have an opportunity to change that," said Sahir Al-Salam, head of investor relations for Michigan Agricultural Services.

Related:

ACLU Marijuana Arrest Report by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd

Al-Salam and her business partner Mark Stockdale are doing just that as owners of Michigan's newest marijuana growing and processing operation. They recently broke ground where their new business will be located on Bayhan Street in Inkster. It's not far from city hall and where Anthony James' mother has lived since the 70s.

"If it creates jobs, I'm OK with that as long as it doesn't create a hazard like crime," said James.

Mark Stockdale

For co-owner Mark Stockdale, to him, growing marijuana for clients interested in healing or recreation brings him back to his roots in gardening with his grandmother.

"Being in the grow room is very pleasant; it's almost like being on a golf course. You know, I mean, it's peaceful. So I like I like being in the grow room with my grandmother, we always grew corn and stuff in the backyard ... always was in the garden," said Stockdale.

What Stockdale and his partner Al-Salam are doing here is more than just joining the big business of growing cannabis. There's a social equity component that involves expunging the records for non-violent crimes like possession of marijuana and helping those people gain entry into the cannabis business with the help of Isla Verde Staffing in Inkster.

In 2019, Police arrested more than 545,600 people for marijuana related crimes
Michigan ranks 23rd in the nation for largest racial disparities in arrests for marijuana possession

Courtesy FBI, 2019 data

"It's one thing to learn how to trim or grow marijuana. But it's another thing to even get into the job to be able to do that," said Christina McPhail-Stockdale.

Mcphail-Stockdale is an attorney who specializes in helping cannabis companies with strict regulations, and she has quite the stake in Michigan Agricultural Services because she happens to be Mark's wife.

Christina McPhail-Stockdale

"If you're not doing it legally, then you're in a narcotic trade. And my principal goal for all my clients, including this company, is to ensure that people don't go to jail," she said.

"We've spent a lot of time and our ancestors have spent a lot of time, if you can, branding marijuana. So let's get into it. Let's get into the business portion of it now that they're given us legal opportunity to step into this realm. I'm taking full advantage. My team has taken full advantage and we want to let the opportunity be not just for us, but for the community," said Al-Salam.

Michigan Agricultural Services hopes to be in partial operation by August. Isle Verde Staffing will open up a job inquiry form on June 1 for residents interested in growing or working on the construction. If you're interested in working in the cannabis industry visit Isle Verde Staffing to submit an inquiry.