Detroit may soon be home to a multi-million business project that aims to help correct damage done by racially biased cannabis policing. WXYZ Detroit reports that Green Cure Wellness and Southeast Provisioning’s new business complex will put priority on training local residents with prior marijuana convictions in the skills they need to take part in the state’s relatively new legal cannabis industry.
The project, located on Livernois Avenue on the west side of Detroit, will house five large-scale growing operations, two processing facilities, and a provisioning center in addition to the training program. The latter will be free of charge to individuals who were convicted of a marijuana-related offense in the days before legalization, and intends to provide skills in growing, budtending, processing, and cannabis entrepreneurship.
Such training programs address the immense pressure that has been put on Detroit’s communities of color by the War on Drugs. The Michigan State Police reported that in 2017, one out of every 12 people they arrested was charged with an offense related to marijuana, and the vast bulk of those were related to possession or consumption. Black men between the ages of 18 and 24 had arrest rates 10 times higher than white woman despite similar rates of usage.
Last year amid such reports of biased policing, 55 percent of Michigan voters approved Proposal 1, which approved the use of recreational marijuana by adults 21 years old and up. Of course, voters’ approbation was just the first step in undoing the injustice committed by selective cannabis prohibition enforcement. The bill did not include automatic expungements for those with cannabis crimes on their record, an omission that was criticized by criminal justice advocates at the time.
In the first four months after the opening of state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries — at the end of which the state saw an expansion in qualifying conditions — $42 million in sales were reported. $18 million in medical marijuana tax revenue alone is predicted in 2019. That’s a big pie, and hopefully those whose lives have been adversely affected by the War on Drugs will get a slice.
Maurice Morton of the Morton Law Group, a former Chief of the special operations division on the Detroit police force, said that was one of the motivations behind the establishment of Green Cure Wellness and Southeast Provisioning.
“As a former prosecutor, many people have been surprised by my investment in the cannabis industry, but I refuse to sit back and watch as other build wealth and African Americans are left out,” Morton, a native Detroiter and one-time candidate for Congress, commented in a press release. “I want to help build opportunities for other people of color.”
The project is not the first large business complex that has been approved in the Detroit area. The Cannabis Property Brokers of Michigan announced that the Oakland Business Park broke ground in October. According to the Detroit News, the 288,000 square foot complex located one hour north of Detroit in the town of Orion plans to include space for “marijuana growers, processors, secure transporters and safety compliance tenants,” but not dispensaries, which are not permitted in the township in which it will be located.