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New Michigan Marijuana Social Equity Grant Program Aims To Boost Businesses, Employees And Community Reinvestment



Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) has announced the launch of a brand new social equity grant program, which will award $1 million to eligible marijuana businesses for education, business needs or community reinvestment.

Money for the grant program was appropriated in the state budget for 2023–2024 “to encourage and increase participation in the social equity program, with particular focus to promote and encourage participation in the marihuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marihuana prohibition and enforcement,” says the grant application posted on Thursday.

“I was honored to spearhead social equity funding in the state budget this year,” Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) said in a press release about the new equity grant program. “I know how important funding is for individuals who are participating in the cannabis industry but may not have the same resources as others. It is vital that we begin the process to help those who have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition. These funds will go a long way in helping those in the social equity space grow their businesses and give back to their communities.”

Under the program, grant awards can be spent on one or more of the following categories:

  • Funds spent on employee education may be used for an employee of the entity to take one or more classes or courses that are relevant to the entity’s business from an accredited institution.
  • Funds spent on business needs may be used towards compliance with licensing and regulatory statutes and rules.
  • Funds spent on community investment may be used on or donated to organizations, non-profits, and/or charities that positively impact the community in which the entity is located.

“Many of our social equity licensees have invested everything they have in their cannabis business, and they truly deserve this shot in the arm,” said CRA Executive Director Brian Hanna. “I’m excited to see how our licensees use these funds and the positive impact they can have on their employees and their communities.”

To qualify, an entity must have a valid adult-use cannabis license, be majority-owned by social equity program participants and be certified under CRA’s Social Equity All-Star program, which requires that licensees publish their social equity plans.

The morning of Thursday, December 7, CRA’s Social Equity Team will host an online presentation and Q&A about the program requirements and process.

“During this discussion, you will find out the eligibility requirements that must be met in order to qualify for the grant and important deadlines that should be kept in mind,” says an event description. “The presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session, which will allow the attendees to ask questions that may be answered in real-time.”

Applications for the program are already available online, as well as instructions and frequently asked questions. They’re due to CRA no later than 5 p.m. on January 26.

The amount each grantee receives will be determined by the number of approved grantees.

“Once it is determined how many applicants meet the criteria for approval,” a website for the program says, “then each approved grantee will receive an equal share of the grant dollars.”

CRA says the awards will be distributed to entities in a lump sum no later than March 15, 2024.

Michigan legalized adult-use marijuana in 2018, and legal sales began in December 2019.

During the most recent fiscal year, state revenue from legal marijuana grew by nearly half (49 percent) according to a report by the state’s House Fiscal Agency, beating out earnings by alcohol.

In October 2023 alone, the marijuana excise tax produced $52.4 million in tax revenue—more than any other single source aside from sales and use taxes, income taxes, insurance taxes and tobacco taxes.

The state has set sales records even as the average cost of marijuana has remained at record lows, with the price of an ounce for adult-use cannabis now hovering around $98 just a few months ago. In December 2021, by contrast, the cost of an ounce was about $180.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) recently signed a pair of bills into law to allow state-licensed marijuana businesses to conduct trade with tribal cannabis entities. Both took effect immediately.

“The bills are intended to allow for the sale of product between the two types of businesses while maintaining a level playing field by requiring tribal businesses to pay the same tax rate as other businesses,” according to an analysis prepared by House staff.

Elsewhere in Michigan’s legal cannabis landscape, a change approved this summer by the state Civil Service Commission took effect in October to end pre-employment marijuana testing for most government employees. The shift also gives people who’ve already been penalized over positive THC tests an opportunity to have the sanction retroactively rescinded.

A bill recently introduced in the legislature would legalize psychedelic plants and fungi so long as activities like cultivating and distributing the substances are done “without receiving money or other valuable consideration.”

In September, Michigan lawmakers called on the U.S. Congress, Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to prioritize research and investment in “non-technology treatment options”—including psychedelics—to treat psychological trauma from military service.

Nearly 70 Percent Of Florida Voters Support Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative, With Majorities Of Every Demographic In Favor

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.


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