In the past, Michigan also experienced a disparity in arrests between white and black American marijuana dealers. To make it worse, the communities that suffer more arrest have minimum participation in the trading of marijuana since it became legal in most states.
Here is what Grand Rapids want to prevent in Michigan. They have initiated a program – the Marijuana Industry Voluntary Equitable Development Agreement MIVEDA to provide a better opportunity to residents of these rural communities to access the narrowed land-use license for medical marijuana facilities.
”The major focus here is to find out ways by which we can ameliorate the effect of color disparities that occurred in the past concerning marijuana” Said Landon Bartley, Grand Rapids’ Senior city planner. ”At the end, it is going to be the nearest achievement our commission has ever desired.”
It remains to be seen how Grand Rapids’ aims to achieve this strategic movement of providing a better opportunity for residents in the aggrandizing marijuana business.
A brief history of arrests
It is worthy to note that more black residents have been arrested for marijuana-related offenses than whites, even when statistics have shown equal participation of the two colors in the business. In Michigan, there is a higher probability that an African-American will be arrested for possession compared to a white resident.
Although some of these arrests occur mostly due to the possession of the product, many groups have risen to protest the dichotomy in detention between the two colors and agitated for the legalization of the product to minimize such cases. Eventually, when the product was legalized, there was a drastic reduction of arrests. However, some recent events indicate that racial discrimination persists, even though it is minimal.
Due to this historical background, advocates for social justice had also pointed to the increasing participation of whites in the legal cannabis business, even when they had suffered less prosecution from its illegal operation in the past.
Marijuana Business Daily published that whites own about 81% of cannabis businesses, even when they represent only about 60% of the US population.
The Grand Rapids Solution
Grand Rapids solution aims to capitalize on the legalization of marijuana and the permission to use medical marijuana equipment to push for equal participation of individuals and localities within the city.
Bartley, the senior city planner, in his words, said: ”We are anticipating about 35 stores and five major growth operations within this geographic region.”
The city will achieve such equity by inviting residents to submit applications through the MIVEDA form. It will give opportunities for rural residents to partake in the program, and selections will be made based on some laid down criteria.
”Once we can get residents to sign and enforce the MIVEDA initiative, then, local governments will have no choice but to make selections that are free from racial bias,” Said Schulz – the City planning director. ”Although our main target is to promote the interstate and participation of African-Americans who had suffered from racial prosecution in the past, we cannot make it a public declaration.”
Some individuals, are, however, pessimistic towards the enforcement of the program based on the historical antecedent. Notably among them is Jamiel Robinson, who champions the course for African-American business owners in the city.
”The first set of applications received have shown very few participations of African-Americans, so, to me, if at the end, the policy does not positively have a direct impact on the African-Americans, then, it is of no use.” – Jamiel Robinson.