Michigan Unveils Social Equity Plan for Recreational Marijuana
July 18, 2019

Today, Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency released the state’s social equity plan for recreational marijuana. The plan—which was mandated by the November 2018 ballot proposal that legalized adult-use marijuana—is aimed at assisting communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the enforcement on marijuana prohibition. The state’s goal is to have 50% of marijuana license holders be social-equity applicants in those communities. That may take some time given the majority of the first wave of recreational licenses are expected to be awarded to existing medical marijuana licensees.

Social-equity applicants will be given assistance in three main areas.  First, the plan calls for a team of five state employees to go into disproportionately impacted communities to provide education on the licensing process, as well as assistance with the actual applications. Second, social-equity applicants can qualify for a reduction in application and license fees of up to 60%. Third, social-equity applicants will be given easier access to state agencies that deal with marijuana-related issues, such as taxes, health and human services, environmental, and business regulation.

The primary qualification for a social-equity applicant is that the majority owner of the applicant business must have been a resident of one of 19 enumerated communities for at least the past five years.  Those 19 disproportionately impacted communities, which were selected based on marijuana-related-conviction and poverty-rate data, are Albion, Benton Harbor, Detroit, East Lansing, Ecorse, Flint, Highland Park, Hamtramck, Inkster, Kalamazoo, Mt. Morris, Mt. Pleasant, Muskegon, Muskegon Heights, Niles, Pontiac, River Rouge, Saginaw and Ypsilanti.

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