Black entrepreneurs are underrepresented in Michigan's recreational marijuana industry

click to enlarge Premiere ProvisionsPremiere Provisions in Big Rapids. Michigan’s recreational marijuana industry is blooming, generating more than a billion dollars in its first full year.But Black people, who were disproportionately jailed when marijuana was illegal, aren't reaping the rewards of the legal industry.Only 3.8% of Michigan residents with an ownership interest in licensed recreational marijuana businesses are Black, according to a recent report from the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA). By contrast, Black people make up 13.7% of the state’s population.The MRA “is committed to making Michigan the model agency in the country, including being a leader on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the marijuana industry,” the agency said in its report To promote diversity, the MRA is recommending new taxes on marijuana sales that would help entrepreneurs of color gain access to capital and receive technical and educational assistance.The recommendations came from the Racial Equity Advisory Workshop, which was tasked with finding ways to diversify the industry.Now it’s up to Michigan lawmakers to approve the recommendations.The workshop recommended reinstating the 3% excise taxes on medical marijuana sales, which would have raised nearly $10 million in new revenue in 2020.The group also is urging lawmakers to create a new 1.5% tax on transactions between recreational marijuana license holders.New taxes would help pay for loans, grants, and training programs for people of color.Before marijuana was legalized, Black people were disproportionately penalized for cannabis-related offenses. A report by the American Civil Liberties Union last year found that Black people are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possessions, even though white people consume cannabis at “roughly equal” rates to Black people. Since 2010, the rising number of states that legalized marijuana “has not reduced national trends in racial disparities.” In fact, more Black people were arrested for marijuana offenses in 2018 than in 2015, the report found.Here are 10 Black-owned cannabis companies to support in Michigan.

Curbside cannabis pick-up could stick around in Michigan even after pandemic subsides

click to enlarge Courtesy of New StandardWhen the coronavirus pandemic hit Michigan, the state's cannabis market quickly pivoted to offering curbside pick-up service so the "essential" industry could continue to serve medical and recreational marijuana customers.But the innovation could remain in place even after the pandemic subsides, according to statements from the state's Marijuana Regulatory Agency director Andrew Brisbo reported byBrisbo made the comments during an interview on thepodcast on Wednesday while reflecting on what the agency learned from the pandemic.When the virus came, the MRA authorized changes to state policy including expanded delivery services and curbside service. But Brisbo suggested those changes could remain as consumer habits have changed.“In-person contact… it’s something that’s always going to be on our minds now,” Brisbo said, adding, “One thing we are going to look at in our administrative rules as we move ahead is allowing for drive thru service, allowing for curbside service but figuring out how we can engage in that and still have the same focus on safety and security that we have in in-person transactions within a facility.”Beyond that, Brisbo said the Marijuana Regulatory Agency is “trying to think ahead to new technologies that might be utilized.”“I’ve heard some interesting ideas about consumer authentication and limiting contact,” Brisbo said. “We want to be on the forefront of allowing businesses to engage in that so we can do it in the safest way possible and in a business-friendly way.”You can listen to the podcast here