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Michigan marijuana regulators launch social equity program

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Michigan’s marijuana regulators want to promote local pot businessownership in 19 communities that have historically been impacted most by past marijuana prohibition.

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency’s “social equity program” will assist people living in Detroit, Flint and other targeted cities with their business applications and reduced fees.

Part of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (2018) requires the MRA to:

“Develop a plan to promote and encourage participation in the marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities.”

The MRA selected the communities covered under its social equity program based on: (1) marijuana-related convictions and (2) poverty rate. Counties in which the total number of marijuana-related convictions exceeded the average marijuana-related conviction rate for the state were selected. From that group, communities were selected in which 30% or more of the population live below the federal poverty level.

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
“We hope the participants continue to come back and we can grow their basic knowledge and continue to provide resources with the ultimate goal of insuring success in the industry, not just achieving initial licensure," says Andrew Brisbo, director of the Marijuana Regulatory Agency

Agency director Andrew Brisbo says the agency would like to see 50% of the marijuana businesses in targeted communities be part of the social equity program. 

“From an overarching standpoint, we want to provide an opportunity to get into the business through a number of perspectives, to individuals who might not otherwise have that opportunity,” says Brisbo.

Brisbo expects this and other efforts to create a regulated market that will help reduce the existing black market. 

The 19 communities are:

Benton Harbor
East Lansing
Highland Park

Mt. Morris
Mt. Pleasant
Muskegon Heights
River Rouge

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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