Marshall — Two years after Michigan’s first legal recreationalcannabis sale, state marijuana regulators say they are now focusing efforts on increasing social equity in the industry to prevent a monopoly of dispensary chains.

But financial hurdles, a lack of experience and a slow process of approving applicants still plague entrepreneurs in communities that the program aims to help, including cities like Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo and Ypsilanti.

When Michigan voters legalized marijuana sales in 2018, the state was required to establish a program to provide education, assistance and pathways for entrepreneurs to successfully navigate the cannabis industry while improving communities where residents were previously disproportionally targeted for pot use. Applicants for the social equity program have to live in one of the disproportionately impacted communities for at least five years, or have a marijuana conviction or have been a caregiver between 2008 and 2017.