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Michigan Racial Equity Group Introduces New Initiatives To Elevate Diversity In Cannabis Industry

January 20, 2021

Sharing News from The Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) over the last few weeks.

February 3, 2021

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) has issued a press release regarding the posting of social equity plans of Michigan’s adult-use marijuana licensees on its website. The press release can be found here, http://bit.ly/SE-PressRelease.The licensees’ social equity plans can be found on the MRA’s website here, http://bit.ly/MRA-SE-Plans.Questions regarding the publishing of licensees’ social equity plans can be directed to the MRA via email at MRA-SocialEquity@michigan.gov.

January 19, 2021 – In order to address concerns about the equitable opportunity in Michigan’s marijuana industry for people of color, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) released the final recommendations of the Racial Equity Advisory Workgroup today.

“The MRA is committed to making Michigan the model agency in the country, including being a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the marijuana industry,” said MRA Executive Director Andrew Brisbo. “As the agency responsible for implementing and administering the laws governing commercial licensure, the MRA recognizes the importance of equity in opportunity for businesses operating in this newly legalized industry.”

The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act – passed by Michigan voters in November 2018 – directed the MRA to create 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.”

As the MRA implemented and expanded this plan, it became clear that the broad language of the statute was not enough to address the specific issue of racial inequities within the commercial industry. Data collected in December 2020 by the MRA on individuals who have an ownership interest in a licensed adult-use establishment in Michigan showed that only 3.8% are Black or African American and 1.5% are Hispanic or Latino.

Accordingly, the MRA established a Racial Equity Advisory Workgroup composed of state and local officials and industry stakeholders as follows:

  • Representatives of the Michigan Legislature
  • Representatives of municipalities with significant minority populations
  • Representatives of minority-focused marijuana industry groups
  • Representatives of minority-focused business groups
  • Attorneys with experience in racial disparities and equity issues pertaining to marijuana
  • Individuals with experience in common barriers to the marijuana industry such as banking, finance, and real estate

And Today’s Update

How to Add Social Equity Fee Reductions to Adult-Use After Pre-qualification or Licensure

On November 13th, 2020, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) began accepting social equity applications through its online portal. Along with this change, the MRA introduced new forms such as the Adding Social Equity: Existing Applicant or Licensee Form (EAL).

Adding Social Equity: Existing Applicant or Licensee Form (EAL)

The EAL form may be used by applicants or licensees who did not apply for social equity before submitting their adult-use marijuana establishment applications. There are a few important things to note, however:

  •   Fee reductions may not be applied to fees already paid to the MRA as these are non- refundable.
  •   Fee reductions may be applied to initial licensure fees or renewal fees as long as the applicant remains eligible for the social equity program.
  •   Fee reductions must be approved by the social equity program 120 days before an adult-use renewal application is due. o Pleasesubmittheformfarenoughinadvancesothatadeterminationcanbe made 120 days before the adult-use renewal. o Ifadeterminationismadeafterthe120-daydeadline,itmaybeusedforlater renewal fee reductions.
  •   Social equity participants must hold majority ownership (greater than 50%) of an entity for a fee reduction to be approved. o Ifapplicable,contacttheadult-uselicensingsectiontoamendyourapplication before submitting the EAL form. More information on the MRA can be found at the agency website: www.michigan.gov/MRA.

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