Black entrepreneurs are underrepresented in Michigan's recreational marijuana industry

Feb 1, 2021 at 10:32 am
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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.

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