MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – After the town of Muskegon agreed to provide grants and loans to those convicted under Michigan’s old marijuana laws, Cory Roberts wasted no time in applying.
Roberts, who is part of a group working to establish a new marijuana dispensary, grow operation and consumer parlor in Muskegon, has applied for a $ 5,000 business grant that is part of the many offers offered by the city.
“I’m grateful for what they have done so far,” Roberts said of city leaders, adding that he believed more could be done to help those affected by marijuana laws now. repealed.
This is more likely to be the case as the city continues to receive a portion of the excise taxes on marijuana from the state. This year, the city’s share is $ 112,000. The city is also using $ 1,200 donated by a local marijuana company.
On Tuesday, June 22, the city commission finalized the city’s social equity program to help those affected by marijuana laws, primarily through “low level” possession convictions.
Those who have already been convicted can receive scholarships of $ 5,000 for their education or professional training; $ 5,000 business start-up grants for costs such as developing a business plan, architectural fees, and business training courses; up to $ 25,000 in interest-free business back-up loans; and up to $ 10,000 in grants for marijuana growing, business and other equipment installed in approved marijuana sites.
Start-up loans and grants are for any type of business, whether it is in the marijuana industry or not.
“Not everyone is passionate about getting into the pot business,” City Commissioner Michael Ramsey said during a discussion on the issue in April. “So I think there is a great opportunity here to extend that to those who just want to open a business in our city. “
In addition, people who qualify for the state to be a social equity claimant can receive up to $ 10,000 in a marijuana license that can be used to cover the cost of the license fee. In these cases, the city’s $ 5,000 application fee would be waived.
“You have convicts who have spent time getting out and they don’t have a fair path to this business entrepreneurship in this industry,” Muskegon planning director Mike Franzak told Commissioners. “I think we need to look at all types of avenues to make this social equity initiative work. “
To meet state qualifications, an applicant must have lived in a community disproportionately affected by marijuana laws – which includes Muskegon – for at least five cumulative years within the past 10 years; have a marijuana-related conviction; or be registered as the primary caregiver for medical marijuana.
The city will also use tax revenues to organize marijuana conviction clearance clinics and to provide education and community awareness on responsible use of marijuana.
Franzak predicted that the city might struggle to spend all the money in the first year. Grants and loans, applications for which are available from the city’s planning department, will be distributed on a first come, first served basis.
Roberts, who has been following the city’s discussions about its social equity program closely, believes he was in line with an application for a business start-up grant first. He said he would use the money to pay an architect’s fees.
He is a partner of Michigan Canna House, which is planning the new marijuana establishment in a former Sons of Norway Lodge at the corner of Harvey Street and Marquette Avenue in the town of Muskegon. The plans are for a retail store and a consumer lounge with food.
Plans are also for a grow house and processing facility.
Canna House is the parent company of Michigan Cannabis Chefs, run by chefs Nigel Douglas and Roberts’ wife Lynette Roberts. Although the company specializes in cannabis-based gastronomy, the food it will serve at the new Muskegon location will not be infused, Roberts said.
The road to commercial entrepreneurship has been a tough one for Roberts, who told MLive he spent four years in jail for minor pot possession. While his initial conviction was for having less than an ounce of marijuana, subsequent probation violations related to pot use landed him in jail where he was arrested for having a joint, Roberts said.
“We have been at a disadvantage because of these laws,” said Roberts.
But individuals like him weren’t the only ones injured, Roberts said. The children of those who have been sentenced have also encountered difficulties and should receive help, he said.
This is something that was discussed by the commissioners, who agreed to consider helping children in the future when they have additional funds for the social equity program.
“Cannabis prohibition, we all know, has disproportionately affected people of color and low-income people,” said Commissioner Ken Johnson. “So these children of detainees were also negatively affected. “
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