Michigan officials recently released plans to introduce a social equity licensing program to get more people of color and low-income communities involved in the cannabis industry. Now, the state is moving forward, as 19 cities are currently geared up to join the program.
According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, the 19 cities that were picked for the initiative were chosen because more than 30 percent of citizens live below the poverty level and because those areas harbor a high rate of cannabis-related arrests. So far, the cities included are Albion, Benton Harbor, Detroit, East Lansing, Ecorse, Flint, Highland Park, Hamtramck, Inkster, Kalamazoo, Mount Morris, Mount Pleasant, Muskegon, Muskegon Heights, Niles, Pontiac, River Rouge, Saginaw and Ypsilanti.
The goal behind the program is to help these budding small businesses to stick around for five years or more after they’ve been opened. “That would be more than the average small business,” said David Harns, spokesperson for the Michigan Marijuana Regulation Agency. “We want to stick around and help them achieve success.”
“Data shows that people of color have been disproportionally affected by marijuana charges,” added Josh Hovey of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. “The hope is that this program can bring in some of those people and create more diversity in what is already one of the fastest growing industries in Michigan.” Hovey also mentioned that his home town of Albion has been unfairly affected by cannabis arrests, but that a program such as this one could allow cities to help out its residents.
Ever since legalization started to take hold, Michigan has been doing its best to have strong social integrity in its cannabis program. The state has been working on overturning past cannabis convictions, as well as instituting warning labels for pregnant women. This is yet another program that is seeing success in Michigan.