Michigan has unveiled the details of the communities that will benefit from the marijuana Social Equity Program of the state. The MRA (Marijuana Regulatory Authority) made this announcement while releasing the list of 19 communities and the different ways in which applicants from those communities will benefit.
The 19 disadvantaged communities are Detroit, Benton Harbor, East Lansing, Albion, Flint, Ecorse, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Inkster, Kalamazoo, Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Morris, Muskegon Heights, Muskegon, Niles, Pontiac, Saginaw, River Rouge and Ypsilanti.
During an exercise that lasted several months, the Marijuana Regulatory Authority put 150 stakeholders in workgroups and solicited input from them on how to select the disadvantaged communities that will benefit from the Social Equity Program, how qualifying individuals from those selected communities will be identified and what services or support should be provided to those selected individuals in the disproportionately affected communities identified. An online survey was also conducted seeking input on those same matters and 688 people responded to the survey.
From the results received, the MRA decided that disadvantaged communities would be selected based the number of marijuana-related convictions and the rate of poverty in those communities.
Taking the state’s marijuana conviction rate as a benchmark, counties that exceeded that state-level rate were identified for inclusion in the Social Equity Program.
From that group of counties, specific communities in which at least 30 percent of the population lived below the poverty level as defined by the federal government were selected.
MRA plans to start receiving applications from those intending to start marijuana businesses on Nov. 1 this year. Before that date, the authority will visit the 19 selected communities several times to educate the targeted population about the application and licensing process in relation to the Social Equity Program.
The representatives of MRA’s Social Equity Program will also help people from those communities to fill applications for participation in the Social Equity Program. These applications will then be scrutinized to confirm that those individuals qualify to benefit from the program.
The people who qualify stand to enjoy up to 60 percent reductions on the applicable fees for a marijuana business license.
For example, being a resident of one of the 19 listed communities for at least five years will earn the qualifying applicant a 25 percent waiver on the payable fees.
An additional 25 percent waiver will also be given to those who are the majority shareholders in the planned marijuana business which will be located within the disadvantaged community. The individual holding the majority ownership stake must also have a cannabis-related conviction in order to qualify for this additional 25 percent fee waiver.
A further 10 percent waiver will also be given to the Social Equity Program applicants who have also served as registered caregivers for at least two years in the period 2008-2017.
The members of the 19 communities will also get help in addressing all the issues related to running a marijuana business in the state. These include tax matters, employment law, workplace safety and health, environmental issues among others. Applicants will also be linked to other state departments and agencies whose services are pertinent to the marijuana industry.
The Social Equity Program appears to be a well thought-out plan that analysts believe will please cannabis industry players like Nabis Holdings Inc. (CSE: NAB) (OTC: NABIF) (FRA: 71P) and MustGrow Biologics Corp. (CSE: MGRO) that insist action must be taken to correct the wrongs committed during the war on drugs.
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