Lansing pot businesses and felons catch a financial break

Social equity program expands to 143 communities in Michigan


MONDAY, May 25 — Lansing residents looking to get into the licensed marijuana business will be able to save some cash as part of a new social equity program from the state of Michigan.

Beginning June 1, entrepreneurs who have lived in Lansing and dozens of other cities for at least five of the last 10 years will be eligible to receive a 25% discount on their marijuana business application and annual licensing fees under a newly expanded statewide program.

Under the Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency’s newly expanded social equity criterion, those living in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition — as well as those convicted of marijuana-related crimes — can receive new annual discounts.

Among them:

— A 25% fee reduction for those living in a disproportionately impacted community for five of the last 10 years. The list of municipalities will expand from 41 to 184 on June 1, including Lansing, East Lansing, Charlotte and Vermontville.

— Those convicted of a marijuana-related misdemeanor — regardless of residency — can receive a 25% fee reduction. Those convicted of felonies, with the exception of distributing drugs to children, are eligible for an annual fee reduction of up to 40%.

— A 10% fee reduction for those who have registered as a primary caregiver under the prior Michigan Medical Marijuana Act for at least two years between 2008 and 2017.

— Those who qualify for the maximum fee reduction (by any of the above criteria) by June 1 will save a total of 75% on their application and licensing fees for all types of cannabis licenses, including for retail, distribution, transportation, processing and testing facilities.

State officials said the newly expanded social equity criteria are designed to help incentivize those impacted by Michigan’s outdated war on cannabis, further level the playing field and get a diverse array of entrepreneurs involved with the licensed business in communities statewide.

The Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act legally requires the state to develop a plan to promote participation within the marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by old laws on marijuana prohibition and enforcement.

Currently, 41 communities that have pot-related convictions greater than the state median and have 30% or more of the population living below the federal poverty level are considered “disproportionately impacted.” On June 1, communities with 20% or more of the population living below the federal poverty line will now qualify, resulting in a total of 184 identified communities.
State representatives will continue to assist entrepreneurs with completing the online social equity application, which enables officials to determine whether they qualify for the program.

In Lansing, where the City Council voted against any social equity criteria when passing its current marijuana licensing ordinance, the move will likely do little to encourage newfound participation in the pot industry. There simply isn’t enough room on the market anymore.

Under city ordinance, the number of locations for both medical and recreational dispensaries is capped at 28. City officials said there won’t be room for any additional pot shops in Lansing, assuming those who have already applied for the licenses don’t face an eventual rejection.

A total of 40 medical and recreational retail pot licenses have been approved or conditionally approved by city officials to date. And three more medical licenses are still pending approval.

Lansing’s ordinance also caps the number of growing facilities at 75 with plans to whittle that down to 55 after Jan. 1, 2021. To date, more than 100 growing licenses have been approved or conditionally approved in lansing. Officials said there’s only room for 11 more facilities in the city.

Each of Lansing’s four wards, under city ordinance, also have room for one microbusiness and one on-site consumption facility. All four wards have at least one application still pending approval for each type of facility — meaning the market for new business is quickly drying up.

The discounts could ultimately incentivize those convicted of marijuana-related crimes to jump into the growing side of the local industry, but for the most part, the new regulations will simply offer discounts to existing entrepreneurs that happen to qualify for the expanded state benefits.

Here’s the list of the Michigan communities now wrapped into the state’s social equity program:
Allegan: Fennville, Lee Township
Arenac: Alger, Sterling
Barry: Nashville
Bay: Bay City, Midland, Pinconning
Berrien: Benton Harbor, Berrien Spring, Coloma, Eau Claire, Niles, Oronoko Township, Sodus Township, Watervliet
Branch: Bronson, Butler Township, Coldwater, Gilead Township, Quincy, Sherwood, Sherwood Township, Union City
Calhoun: Albion, Battle Creek, Springfield, Tekonsha, Tekonsha Township, Union City
Cass: Cassopolis, Dowagiac, Edwardsburg, Lagrange Township, Marcellus, Vandalia
Eaton: Charlotte, Vermontville
Emmet: McKinley Township, Wawatam Township
Genesee: Clio, Flint, Flint Township, Mt. Morris, Mt. Morris Township

Gratiot: Alma, Bethany Township, Breckenridge, Fulton Township, Perrinton, Seville Township, Wheeler Township
Hillsdale: Montgomery
Ingham: East Lansing, Lansing
Ionia: Ionia, Muir, Orleans Township, Ronald Township
Isabella: Coldwater Township, Fremont Township, Mt. Pleasant, Shepherd
Jackson: Hanover, Jackson, Springport
Kalamazoo: Galesburg, Kalamazoo
Kent: Cedar Springs, Grand Rapids
Lapeer: Clifford, Columbiaville, Imlay City, Lapeer
Lenawee: Adrian, Morenci
Macomb: Center Line, Mt. Clemens
Mecosta: Aetna Township, Barryton, Big Rapids, Deerfield Township, Fork Township, Mecosta, Millbrook Township, Morley, Sheridan Township, Stanwood, Wheatland Township
Monroe: Luna Pier
Montcalm: Carson City, Crystal Township, Edmore, Greenville, Home Township, Howard City, Lakeview, McBride, Pierson, Stanton
Muskegon: Holton Township, Muskegon, Muskegon Heights, Twin Lake
Newaygo: Beaver Township, Big Prairie Township, Bridgeton Township, Denver Township, Fremont, Grant, Hesperia, Lilley Township, Merrill Township, Newaygo, Troy Township, White Cloud, Wilcox Township
Oakland: Hazel Park, Pontiac, Royal Oak Township
Ogemaw: Horton Township, Prescott, Richland Township, Rose City, West Branch
Ottawa: Allendale Township
Roscommon: Higgins Township, Richfield Township, Roscommon, Roscommon Township, St. Helen
Saginaw: Bridgeport Township, Carrollton Township, Chapin Township, Chesaning, Kochville Township, Marion Township, Saginaw, Spaulding Township
Shiawassee: Owosso
St. Clair: Port Huron
St. Joseph: Sturgis, Sturgis Township, Three Rivers, White Pigeon Township
Tuscola: Akron, Caro, Dayton Township, Gagetown, Gilford Township, Kingston, Koylton Township, Mayville, Vassar, Vassar Township
Van Buren: Arlington Township, Bangor Township, Bloomingdale, Breedsville, Columbia Township, Covert Township, Decatur, Decatur Township, Hartford, Keeler Township, Lawrence, Mattawan, Paw Paw, South Haven
Washtenaw: Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti
Wayne: Dearborn, Detroit, Ecorse, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Inkster, Melvindale, River Rouge, Wayne
Wexford: Antioch Township, Cadillac, Colfax Township, Mesick, Slagle Township


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