City looks to emphasize social equity in cannabis industry

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More Grand Rapids residents will have opportunities to open and/or be employed in the cannabis industry courtesy of the city of Grand Rapids Cannabis Justice Work Group’s new social equity policy.

The social equity policy calls for:

  • Voluntary incentives to assign priority for zoning and licensing consideration of applicants deemed “equity” or “advancing equity.”
  • Establishment of a nonprofit by the city to extend social equity work. The nonprofit will incentivize equity-enhancing practices beyond the scope of what the city can do directly, including investing in the community and collaboration with cannabis stakeholders.

The policy amends the licensing ordinance and zoning ordinance to allow applicants with social equity plans to have a faster track in the license application process for cannabis facilities. Applicants also are eligible for discounted cannabis license fees.

“The primary equity goals of the new policy and ordinance changes are to provide economic opportunities in the new cannabis industry for communities that have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition,” said Mark Washington, city manager. “Those communities also were disproportionately impacted over the past 40 years. This policy will help us find ways to invest in segments of the community affected by that same impact.”

The changes allow medical cannabis facilities and recreational cannabis retailers, growers, processors, secure transporters and safety compliance facilities — subject to certain limitations — to begin applying for local licenses starting July 20.

Applicants who do not include a social equity plan within their applications will have their applications processed after those applicants who have implemented social equity plans.

For more information on the cannabis licensing process, visit the city’s website.

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