Michigan's marijuana businesses will soon be more affordable for those with weed-related convictions

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A marijuana-related conviction will no longer keep you from getting in on Michigan's marijuana industry — in fact, it might help.

Starting June 1, people impacted by the War on Drugs may become eligible for discounted application and licensing fees. As part of its Social Equity Program, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency announced that it would expand benefits to encourage those who would otherwise be shut out from participating in Michigan's adult-use marijuana industry that, since opening late last year, has generated more than $91 million in sales.

So who's eligible for the program? People with marijuana-related convictions and those living in poor communities. The program has tweaked qualifications to include communities that have 20% or more of the population living below the federal poverty level. They've also expanded the number of those communities “disproportionally impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement and to positively impact those communities” from 41 to 184, the press release states.

Previously, you would've had to live in one of the 41 qualifying areas to be eligible for a fee reduction, so long as you had a marijuana-related conviction. Under the expanded program, that's no longer the case.

A 40% fee reduction is now available to anyone with a marijuana-related conviction, the only exception being distribution to a minor. That discount is applied to the state's $6,000 application fee, $25,000 retail licensing cost, and costs for marijuana processing and growing facilities, which could be as much as $40,000, MLive reports.

For those with a weed-related misdemeanor, they'll receive a $25% discount, as will those who can confirm residency in one of the designated impacted communities for five of the last 10 years. And, if you've been a registered medical marijuana caregiver for two years during 2008-2017, you could get a 10% exception, too.

Per the release, fee reductions are active for as long as the applicant “operates within a disproportionately impacted community.” However, those discounts are still applied, should the applicant operate outside of one of the designated communities, but the fees will expire after two years.

For a full list of Michigan's 184 qualifying communities, visit michigan.gov.

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