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May 2020
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May 26, 2020

Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency’s Expansion of the Social Equity Program

Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) recently announced an expansion to its Social Equity Program, initially developed to promote and encourage participation in the marijuana industry by people in communities disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition and enforcement. The expansion implicates particular eligibility standards and fee reductions for the MRA’s Social Equity Program, and goes into effect on June 1, 2020.

The MRA’s revision of eligibility criteria will increase the number of communities that are eligible for fee reductions and assistance with its social equity and adult-use applications. The eligibility criteria will now include the following: 
 
  • Communities which have marijuana-related convictions greater than the state median and have 20% or more of the population living below the federal poverty level will qualify for the Social Equity Program (a “disproportionately impacted community”). 

Prior to the change in this particular eligibility standard, only communities that had 30% or more of the population living below the federal poverty level qualified for the Social Equity Program. 

Furthermore, the MRA is expanding and clarifying the fee reductions offered under the Social Equity Program for an application submitted to the MRA in the following ways: 
 
  • There is now a 40% fee reduction if one has been convicted of a marijuana-related felony (excluding a conviction for distribution of a controlled substance to a minor), in addition to the 25% fee reduction if one has been convicted of a marijuana-related misdemeanor. An individual need not live in a disproportionately impacted community to qualify for this fee reduction. 

  • An individual need not live in a disproportionately impacted community to qualify for the primary caregiver fee reduction, through which an individual receives a 10% fee reduction for registration as a primary caregiver under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act for at least two years between 2008 and 2017. 

  • Applicants and licensees that qualify for the maximum fee reduction under the Social Equity Program shall receive a 75% reduction in their application and annual licensing fees. 

The MRA has stated that the fee reductions last indefinitely, until an applicant or licensee no longer is eligible for the reduction or moves out of a disproportionately impacted community. If applicants or licensees move out of a disproportionately impacted community, their reduction will expire two years after operating outside of the disproportionately impacted community. 

If you would like further details regarding the MRA’s Social Equity Program, please contact Robert Hendricks, Alexandra Chitwood, or a member of Warner’s Cannabis Industry Group.

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