Marijuana companies give back through Madison Heights Progress Forward

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published October 6, 2021

 Liberty Cannabis and Puff Cannabis — the two marijuana companies currently open for business in the city of Madison Heights — have been contributing to a Community Investment Fund overseen by a citizen-led board awarding grants to nonprofits and other groups in the area.

Liberty Cannabis and Puff Cannabis — the two marijuana companies currently open for business in the city of Madison Heights — have been contributing to a Community Investment Fund overseen by a citizen-led board awarding grants to nonprofits and other groups in the area.

Photos by Patricia O’Blenes

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MADISON HEIGHTS — Eligible groups in Madison Heights are able to apply for grants through a program funded by ongoing donations from local marijuana companies — part of a pledge that the businesses made when they set up shop in the city.

The initiative, called Madison Heights Progress Forward, is overseen by a board consisting of two residents, the city’s finance director, the city manager, and a representative from each of the marijuana companies in town: Puff Cannabis and Liberty Cannabis.

Both businesses signed an agreement to reinvest in community causes by way of the Community Investment Fund. Puff Cannabis and Liberty Cannabis each contribute $25,000 per year, plus 1% of their annual profits. Since the companies have not yet completed a full year of operations, they have only donated $25,000 for two years, which includes the prep time prior to opening.

The board then awards grants of up to $5,000 apiece to local community groups, charities, volunteer groups, clubs, schools, nonprofit organizations and even city departments.

To apply, visit madison-heights.org/formcenter, and scroll down to Community Development, or visit the city manager’s office at Madison Heights City Hall, located at 300 W. 13 Mile Road.

The board evaluates each proposal on its alignment with the city’s strategic plan, and whether the project being proposed helps the city move toward one of its identified priority areas.

“An example would be repopulating the city with trees, which is a focus of the strategic plan,” Madison Heights City Manager Melissa Marsh said in an email.

In 2020, Madison Heights Progress Forward awarded $7,000 to ReLeaf Michigan, part of a match grant to plant 32 trees on Moulin Avenue, and to plant other trees throughout the city; $5,500 to the Madison Heights Arts Board for the outdoor mural at Rosie’s Park; $1,000 to city events such as Juneteenth and Trail Tunes; and $23,500 for the Fitness Court at Huffman Park.

Liberty Cannabis is located at 29600 Stephenson Highway, in what was previously Fairlanes Bowling Alley, while Puff Cannabis is located at 2 Ajax Drive, site of the former Madison Athletic Club. The Community Investment Fund to which they’ve contributed currently has $63,000 to distribute.

“The board looks at making the most significant impact on the community as a whole with enhancements that benefit the most individuals in the city,” Marsh said. “The strategic plan is the guiding document to align the city’s priorities and projects funded through Progress Forward.

“The whole process is very short,” she added. “The board meets as needed and considers grant applications as received. The typical turnaround time (from pitch to grant approval) is three to four weeks.”     

She said that the donations from the two companies demonstrate a commitment to the city, and that the fund is also an excellent opportunity to hear the creative ideas of local groups.

“Their needs are front and center in our mind, with their creative proposals, ideas or projects,” Marsh said.

Mike Bahoura, owner of Puff Cannabis, said he’s happy to be a part of the initiative.  

“Since 2004, as one of the owners of the former Save A Lot grocery store in Madison Heights, we have a long history of giving back to this community, working with dozens of worthwhile nonprofits over the last 15 years. Now with ownership in Puff Cannabis, and being able to partner with the great team at Liberty and city leadership, we have the opportunity to make an even bigger impact through the Community Investment Fund,” Bahoura said in an email. “As someone who has lived in Madison Heights and graduated high school in Madison Heights, I am honored to be a part of Progress Forward and all the great things it will be doing here in the city.”

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