The Cannabis Regulatory Agency’s (CRA) Social Equity Program arises from a provision of the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA) designed to promote and encourage participation in the cannabis industry by those residing within communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement.
Warner’s Cannabis Industry Group strongly advocates this program and the incentives it provides to those who were negatively impacted by former marijuana prohibition. We appreciate the program for acknowledging the businesses reinvesting into their communities. These businesses are recognized through the "All Star Program," which will be reviewed later in this eAlert.
Program Eligibility and Requirements
The Social Equity Program provides fee reductions ranging from 10-40% to its participants. In order to qualify for the optional MRTMA-only program, an applicant must meet at least one of three criteria:
- Be a resident for at least five cumulative years in a community that was disproportionately impacted by marijuana laws for a 25% reduction in fees. See the list of CRA-identified communities for more information.
- Be convicted of a marijuana-related offense for a 25% reduction in fees for a misdemeanor and a 40% reduction in fees for a felony.
- Be registered as a primary caregiver under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act for at least two years between 2008 and 2017 for a 10% reduction in fees. See Infographic of Qualifying Criteria.
Warner’s Cannabis Industry Group regularly assists clients with the application process, which calls for demographic and other supporting documentation to prove qualification status in one of the above categories. Documents that meet the program’s requirements are broad — for example, to prove residency in a disproportionately impacted community, applicants could be required to submit mortgage statements, property tax documents and utility statements.
For eligible, first-time applicants, Social Equity Program status and eligibility lasts two years. After two years, applicants have the option to renew their eligibility annually to continue participation.
Individuals or entities that have already started the adult-use application process for an establishment license, or those who already have a licensed establishment, have the option to take part in the Social Equity Program at any time through an "EAL" form. Although Social Equity Program discounts cannot be applied retroactively, entities or individuals who opt-in to the program post-licensure would qualify for fee reductions in time for their next adult-use renewal, or if they desire to add any additional adult-use licenses later.
The CRA announced the Social Equity All-Star Program in May of 2022 to encourage licensees’ diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Adult-use licensees are eligible for recognition by the All-Star Program by meeting qualifying criteria regarding social equity, corporate spend and community reinvestment plans. The CRA defines qualifying criteria by various levels:
- All-Star Bronze Qualifiers: Companies that publish their social equity plans on the CRA website.
- All-Star Silver Qualifiers: Companies that publish their social equity and corporate spend plans on the CRA website.
- All-Star Gold Qualifiers: Companies that publish social equity, corporate spend and community reinvestment plans on the CRA website.
All-Star Program status is viewed as a symbol of community outreach efforts, and some municipalities favor applicants who have bronze, silver or gold status over those who do not. We are happy to assist clients with the completion of their social equity, corporate spend and community reinvestment plans to help more clients opt into the beneficial program.
Please contact Bob Hendricks or a member of Warner’s Cannabis Industry Group with any questions regarding the All-Star Program or the Social Equity Program.
Warner Paralegal Bree Tullis contributed to this eAlert.