African Americans — one of the groups that have been harmed the most by the War on Drugs — remain underrepresented in Michigan's new legal cannabis industry.
In 2020, only 4% of the respondents of a survey of cannabis license holders conducted by Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs identified as Black, though the group makes up 14% of the state’s population. High start-up costs are to blame for limiting who can enter the industry, though some municipalities have social equity programs that offer reduced fees for minority groups, as well as for people with previous drug offenses.
Meanwhile, Detroit, the biggest Black city in the country, stepped into the recreational marijuana game pretty late, recently approving an ordinance for its use. Despite the challenges, these Black Michiganders are helping to shift what the cannabis industry looks like, one bud at a time. —Lee DeVito, Alex Washington, and Jerilyn Jordan