Cannabis advocate Jamie Cooper ranked third of five hopefuls, with a 22 percent margin, in the race to the November General Election for a seat on the City Council in Grand Haven, Michigan – one of the most conservative counties in the predominantly red State.
Cooper holds a BS in Mass Communication from West Texas A&M University. Her work background includes stints as a television news Producer in both the Denver and Dallas/Fort Worth markets; as well as positions in marketing, sales, and business coaching.
Michigan was poised to legalize cannabis on the heels of an eight year cannabis medical program, began in 2008. In light of legalizing for recreation, Cooper anticipated the need for education on the health benefits, not just for the people of Michigan, but for the legislators creating laws for something they knew little about.
“In my work, I was able to open up a number of communities and learned a lot about municipal government,” she shared. “It truly opened up my eyes to the important decisions made locally, and how those decisions impact me and my family, my neighbors, and how the community operates for the greater good.”
Cooper created Cannabiz Connection, a B2B education and marketing platform, also holding weekly Chamber of Commerce-type mixers, inviting in cannabis industry members, those wanting to get into the industry, and residents wanting to know more about what was going on within the emerging cannabis industry in Michigan.
“This is when I really started paying attention to the politicking in my own city of Grand Haven,” she continued. “I’ve been around long enough to realize, if you want something to change, you have to be a part of that change. My first attempt to get involved was a seat on the Grand Haven Musical Fountain Committee, and that really helped me connect with community leaders and get a better feel for the community at large.”
Also a Board Member of the West Michigan Cannabis Guild and Smart & Safe Grand Rapids, this year she was named one of the 200 Most Powerful Business Leaders in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal; on the heels of being acknowledged as being one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women of West Michigan in 2018. On the cannabis front, she was also added to the 100 + of the Most Important Women in Weed by the Green Market Report.
Being a business owner, wife and mother in the state, her platform in the Grand Haven City Council race is varied. She cares about infrastructure, affordable housing, and a sustaining community; but fair cannabis laws are near and dear to her heart.
“My journey in cannabis began in 2015, five months after moving from Colorado – a legal cannabis state – to Michigan,” she explained. “I was looking for information on obtaining a medical cannabis card, and it didn’t take long until I realized how much education was needed. Soon, I was researching business opportunities in the cannabis space. It helped me turn my frustration in the lack of information and unjust municipal laws into motivation to change the political landscape.”
Her win to move forward for a seat on the Grand Haven City Council means progress for the cannabis community, and an opportunity to educate fellow lawmakers. But, even if she doesn’t win come November, she feels she’s made a difference.
“One reason I decided to run for City Council is to help pave the way and motivate other pro-cannabis candidates to become more involved,” she surmised. “If you can change one seat on a municipal board, that person can help educate the rest of the board, leading to more municipalities opting in to allow cannabis facilities.”
Her ultimate goal is to end the negative stigma of cannabis, while providing safe access to the people who need it.
“The way the state laws on cannabis are written, the municipalities are in control,” she concluded. “Having educated cannabis advocates involved in writing the rules could very well be the way to overcome our biggest hurdles on local levels. The best way to overcome the challenge is by educating and presenting opportunities to those that just don’t know any better.”
With one win firmly in her pocket, Cooper is ever the advocate, urging people via social media to get involved, rather than gloating on her success, stating, “If you truly want to make an impact, I encourage you to start attending your municipality meetings, start building relationships in your community and get more involved. Figure out your strengths and use them to better the world around you. It’s time for all of us to step up.”