While Detroit’s social equity plan gets held up in a lawsuit, these cannapreneurs aren’t waiting | Higher Ground | Detroit
Social justice opportunities seem to be a very popular entry into the Michigan cannabis business. That makes sense. Nearly 200 communities, including all of the state’s largest cities, qualify for the Fee Reduction and Business Resource Program. The social justice provisions only apply to recreational licenses, not medical purposes.
The basic idea of social justice is to help restore communities that are “disproportionately affected by the prohibition and enforcement of marijuana” by giving them the opportunity to make some money from what has caused them so many problems. This even applies to individuals. The Marijuana Regulatory Agency offers those with marijuana crime convictions a 40 percent reduction in license fees and those with misdemeanor convictions a 25 percent reduction. A kind of “the worse you were then, the better for you now” approach.
Detroit and Ypsilanti, as well as many other cities, have other considerations specifically aimed at resident licenses. Detroit takes a “legacy” Detroit approach of licensing those who have lived in Detroit for 15 years in the past 30 years – less if they were incarcerated. However, that plan is currently embroiled in a lawsuit due to some local ownership requirements. Last week, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman issued an injunction on a lawsuit alleging the ordinance is unconstitutional and discriminatory, meaning some people are waiting to see what, if anything, is allowed.
The folks at the Detroit Cannabis Project, a nonprofit, aren’t waiting around. DCP is an incubator program that offers an approach to creating successful cannabis businesses in Detroit. The organization was just getting started with its first cohort of potential business owners – a group of 35 people selected from around 200 applicants. The all inclusive program covers business fundamentals, business plans, financing, licensing and much more in sessions with a range of professionals. It even includes a Shark Tank-like session for business talks.
Rebecca Colett, founder of the group, sees social justice as great and it’s not the only pot she’s stirring. She is also a co-owner of Calyxeum, a medical cannabis cultivation and processing company in the 7th district on the west side of Detroit.
“We wanted to take a different approach,” says Colett. “Community is a big part of our brand. We have to provide some kind of community service. We just wanted to go beyond that. If we do good for people, they will be good for us.”
They create a staff development program so that people have the skills to work in the cannabis industry even if they are not business owners. And they want to fix the neighborhood around them in meaningful ways.
“We bought a number of vacant houses and lots,” she says. “We’re going to turn some of them into urban gardens. We’re building and redeveloping a lot of these lots so that children have a place to play and are safe for seniors. We’re redeveloping some places in courtyards.”
All of this adds up to something opposite of what was once considered to be the effects of cannabis on the neighborhood. Vocational training, feeding people, and community building are a great social justice.
Jessica Jackson is another Detroit woman who works with Legacy Collective Corporation, a worker-owned cannabis company, from a different angle on social justice for cannabis.
“We’re a cooperative that upholds justice in our community,” said Jackson, owner of the cannabis-friendly copper house. “We want to make sure that our employees have access to property. … Our team consists of regular employees with regular amounts and access to capital.”
Your approach is humble. You have applied for a Class B license for up to 500 plants. Her business plan is to reinvest in the business, add a consumption lounge, and eventually move into retail after a few years.
All of this depends on Detroit pushing its recreational marijuana licensing program forward. A group of pharmacies has sued the city over the law, and a federal judge has ordered the city to stop processing applications for recreational licenses.
Ypsilanti settled all of this in 2019 when this municipality decided to use recreational cannabis. The Ypsilanti Grain and Farm Bureau is a potential company that has used social justice in its application. The owners of this business plan to have a growth operation, retail sales and consumption lounge in the historic building near Frog Island.
“The Ypsilanti Grain and Farm Bureau is quite significant historically for Ypsilanti,” says co-owner Jeff Guyton. “It’s been on the list of dangerous buildings for 25 years. So much work has to be done on it.”
The 93-year-old grain silo fits in perfectly with the plan to build a vertically integrated business. And the up to 2,000 plants that the company is licensed to grow are definitely a form of agriculture. Not to mention the restoration of a historic building that goes well with community benefits when dealing with the concept of social justice.
Interesting things like this are popping up across Michigan as cannapreneurs get creative on how to bring social justice home.
The 420 edition
The 420 edition
From MT Staff
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