State Offers Discounts To Entrepreneurs In 19 Cities To Start Marijuana Businesses

July 18, 2019 - 11:51 am
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LANSING (WWJ) - Entrepreneurs in 19 cities including Detroit, Hamtramck and Pontiac will be getting help in setting up marijuana businesses.

The Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency on Thursday announced a Social Equity Program this morning, which is designed to encourage participation in the marijuana industry by people who live in the 19 cities selected as a result of marijuana-related convictions and poverty rates.

The program will allow those setting up businesses in one of the cities to receive up to 60-percent off the application fee, the initial license fee, and future renewal fees.

The communities include: 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.

"A lot of work has gone into the development of this program and we are proud of the results," MRA Executive Director Andrew Brisbo said in a statement. "I believe that our Social Equity Program will lead the nation in accomplishing the social equity objectives that Michigan voters assigned us last fall when they passed the adult-use marijuana proposal."

Section 8 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."

Over the last several months, the MRA solicited input from stakeholders in work groups and an online survey to help determine the most important criteria the MRA should use to identify disproportionately impacted communities and the most important services that should be offered. The input also helped determine which criteria should be used to identify individuals who qualify for the services as well as what services the MRA should offer to the qualifying individuals.

From the results, the MRA developed a Social Equity Program that identifies communities as eligible using marijuana-related convictions and 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.

Reduced Fees

Participating in the Social Equity Program allows qualifying applicants whose marijuana establishments will be located in disproportionately impacted communities to benefit from a reduction of up to 60% off the application fee, the initial license fee, and future renewal fees, which will be calculated as follows for qualifying applicants:

  • 25% reduction for those who have been a resident of one of the 19 disproportionally impacted communities for the past five years
  • An additional 25% reduction if the individual 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 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

Social equity representatives will confirm eligibility for participation in this program through acceptance of several forms of documentation.