People working to make Michigan’s cannabis industry more socially equitable will be honored and spotlighted by the state’s regulatory agency for making a difference.
The Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) announced on Tuesday the Social Equity All-Star Program, a new initiative aiming to encourage and promote cannabis industry licensees who are proactive in their diversity, equity, and inclusivity in the state.
Andrew Brisbo, executive director of Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency, said that the program was conceptualized since cannabis became legal in the state in 2018 and will have tiered plans ranging from having a social equity plan, to making a list of suppliers that help these communities.
“When we look at diversity of ownership, we aren’t in place to see they are reflective of the state overall and we hope to change that,” Brisbo said. “It was an opportunity to recognize those who wanted to make an impact in this space.”
Brisbo said that the program circumvents a Michigan constitutional amendment banning affirmative action as it is not mandated on licensees nor required to open a cannabis business in the state.
CRA adult-use licensees are eligible for recognition by taking actions such as plans for community development, implementation of social equity plans, and community reinvestment. Participation is incentivized through tier tracks that award Bronze, Silver, and Gold social equity seals. The seals will identify licensees’ social equity involvement based on their level of commitment to social equity.
They’re starting to standardize what social equity should look like. I’ve been building it out with common citizens for the gold star rating. I’m excited because it will start to elevate people’s programs to help others. I do think what this builds out is expectations for what good programs do.
Jessica Jackson, Director of External Affairs and Social Equity of the Flint-based Common Citizen initiative, said that it is a welcome spotlight to those making a difference in the community.
“They are setting the gold standard for other cannabis programs in other states to follow,” Jackson says. “It’s important to map out how we plan to give back to the community. I’m beyond excited to see it happen.”
The tiers to receive are as follows:
- Bronze: licensees must publish a social equity plan on the CRA website and attest to its implementation in how the plan will make an impact in disproportionately impacted communities through employment, educational or mentorship programs, monetary assistance, or training.
- Silver: licensees must meet the bronze level requirements and publish their corporate spending plan on the CRA website detailing how they plan to achieve their goals.
- Gold: licensees must meet the silver level requirements and detail the licensee’s volunteer time or the donation percentages of their revenue to organizations, non-profits, and charities which positively impact those in areas disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs as well as racial/ethnic minorities, women, veterans, Native American tribes, the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities.