Michigan’s legal cannabis industry is one of the country’s youngest, with adult-use dispensaries open only since December 2019. And while business is healthy—in July, the state reported earning $200 million in revenue in less than seven months—Michigan faces several challenges. Three-fourths of its municipalities have opted out of the state-approved recreational program, and at over $400 on average for an ounce of retail flower, cannabis is much more expensive than other parts of the country.
And like those other parts of the cannabis industry, Michigan’s market also faces a diversity problem. In a survey sent out by the state, only 4% of license holders were Black, despite a 14% statewide population (though only 19% of the cannabis business surveys were returned).
Fortunately for the marginalized communities hurt most by prohibition, there are forces working to help create a fair industry in Michigan, where cannabis sales are expected to reach $1 billion annually by 2021.
Michigan’s Uphill Equity Battle
With around 80% of the population, Detroit is the largest Black-majority city in the country and home to important American cultural contributions. Unfortunately for aspiring green entrepreneurs in the Motor City, Detroit is one of the more than 1,400 Michigan municipalities that has opted out of adult-use recreational sales. Reports this week suggest the city wants to change that, but it still has a long road to a mature industry.
Then there’s the licensing process itself: Currently, the state requires prospective adult-use dispensaries to have a medical license. That provision will change, but not until March 1, 2021. Marijuana-related business fees are exponentially higher in Michigan, as well: In Massachusetts, a cannabis microbusiness needs to pay $300 for an initial application license. In Michigan, the cost for a microbusiness application is $6,000.