The Marijuana Regulatory Agency took a big step toward fulfilling the social equity provisions of the adult-use marijuana law when director Andrew Brisbo announced the 19 communities that will benefit from the policy. Agency workers made the determination by looking at where marijuana convictions exceeded the average rate for the state. Out of that group, communities with a 30 percent or more poverty rate were chosen.
"From an overarching standpoint we want to broaden opportunity to get into the business from a number of perspectives to individuals that might not otherwise have that opportunity, [by] focusing our resources on those specific communities that have been disproportionately impacted [by marijuana prohibition]," says Brisbo.
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 all qualify for the program that provides application assistance, reduced fees, and resources to assist applicants with things such as understanding tax requirements, employee benefits, and other business-related services. While all those communities qualify, Albion and Mt. Pleasant have opted out of allowing adult-use businesses and it is up to local rules.
At this point, the program does not include direct financial aid such as loans or grants. (The Illinois legalization law provides a $12 million loan fund for minority entrepreneurs that will be augmented by funds from marijuana sales.)
"That's not a resource we have available at this time," says Brisbo.
In practice, any current license holder in Detroit qualifies for social equity consideration. That means they will have a leg up, since in the first year of adult-use licensing their applications will be expedited.
Class A growers, temporary event organizers, and microbusinesses also qualify and will be allowed in the licensing process in that first year.