East Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — When Michigan voters approved recreational marijuana last year, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency also had a proposal.
“The agency needed to develop a program that would benefit the communities that were impacted before and so the social equity program is designed to do just that,” David Harns, Spokesperson for the Marijuana Regulatory Agency said.
The MRA identified 19 cities who would benefit from the program. East Lansing was one of them.
Other cities include Albion, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Ecorse, Flint, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Inkster, Kalamazoo, Mount Morris, Mount Pleasant, Muskegon, Muskegon Heights, Niles, Pontiac, River Rouge, Saginaw, and Ypsilanti.
“We took the data that showed arrest rates and then also poverty rates and kind of looked at that and determined which communities in the state were disproportionately impacted,” Harns said.
Harns said the social equity program aims to provide resources to people in those communities who are interested in starting a marijuana business.
This afternoon, representatives from the MRA visited East Lansing to plug people in with resources, answer questions, and explain the discounts that the program gives to residents of the select communities.
According to the Office of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, participating in the Social Equity Program allows qualifying applicants to benefit from a reduction of up to 60% off the application fee, the initial license fee, and future renewal fees, based on the following requirements:
- 25% reduction for those who have been a resident of one of the 19 disproportionally impacted communities for the past five years AND whose marijuana establishments will be located in disproportionately impacted communities.
- An additional 25% reduction if the individual(s) holding majority ownership have been a resident of one of the 19 disproportionally impacted communities for the past five years AND have a marijuana-related conviction.
- An additional 10% reduction if the individual(s) holding majority ownership have been a resident of one of the 19 disproportionally impacted communities for the past five years AND were registered as primary caregivers for at least two years between 2008 and 2017.
“People who you know aren’t necessarily business people for their whole lives or they’re just wanting to get into this industry don’t necessarily know all of the things that are required to be successful,” Harns said.
They hope the program will help bridge that gap and encourage those who were previously punished, to get involved in the industry.
The application for the Social Equity Program can be found here.