Michigan cannabis group urges faster track for social equity applicants

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A Michigan cannabis trade association is calling on state regulators to make social equity candidates eligible for adult-use marijuana licenses a year early but keep a moratorium until December 2021 for other recreational applicants.

State regulators recently said they were considering making recreational-only licenses available in November, a year ahead of schedule.

Michigan allowed existing medical cannabis operators the first crack at the adult-use market in December 2019 by establishing a two-year moratorium on most additional adult-use licenses.

Steve Linder, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association, which includes the state’s largest cultivators/processors, said the group sees an opportunity for the state to accelerate the timeline for social equity applicants to enter the market.

That, in turn, could benefit both minority entrepreneurs and communities that were disadvantaged by the war on drugs.

“What a great way to provide a safe lane for social equity prospective licensees to ramp up and get into the business before the rest of the adult-use marketplace ramps up,” Linder told Marijuana Business Daily on Wednesday.

He said the plan also might encourage communities that have opted out of allowing recreational marijuana businesses to reconsider.

But Linder said the association would like to see the state otherwise abide by the two-year moratorium.

“We feel the two-year runway given to people that made the big investment in high-grade medical (cultivation and processing) facilities should be honored. It’s in the rule.”

Linder said the 1-year-old association consists of multistate operators and Michigan-owned companies that have invested more than half a billion dollars into advanced cannabis manufacturing facilities.

Despite a low municipal participation rate, Michigan adult-use sales already are rivaling MMJ sales – recreational marijuana sales have exceeded $200 million since the program launched in December 2019.

The new Marijuana Business Factbook estimates that Michigan rec sales will reach $400 million-$475 million in 2020.

For a sampling of organizations and efforts that support, foster and enhance social equity in the cannabis industry as well as opportunities for minorities, overall diversity and racial justice, click here.