Detroit Ordinance to Allow Adult-Use Dispensaries Advances
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Detroit Ordinance to Allow Adult-Use Dispensaries Advances

The city council’s Public Health and Safety Committee cast a split vote to approve a proposal that would open a licensing process for cannabis businesses.

March 8, 2022

Michigan retailers sold more than $1.3 billion of adult-use cannabis in 2021, and that was of no thanks to the state’s largest city.

But that could change soon.

Detroit moved one step closer to allowing adult-use dispensaries and other cannabis businesses to operate in its jurisdiction after the city council’s Public Health and Safety Committee members voted, 2-1, March 7 to advance a proposed ordinance, Detroit Metro Times reported.

In addition to licensing as many as 76 adult-use dispensaries, the proposal would pave the way to 30 licenses for consumption lounges and micro-businesses, and an unlimited number of cultivators, processors and secured transporters, the news outlet reported.

“It’s a very delicate issue,” Councilwoman Mary Waters said during a public hearing Monday, before casting the lone dissenting vote in committee, suggesting another hearing was needed. “It’s a very emotional issue for a lot of Detroiters. I want to do this on behalf of the people.”

Despite Waters’ reservation, the proposed ordinance now advances for consideration by the full nine-member city council.

The move comes nearly nine months after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman issued a 19-page injunction blocking a previous attempt to license cannabis retailers in Detroit.

Under the previous proposed ordinance, business entrepreneurs would have been able to obtain “Detroit Legacy” status for one of 75 adult-use retail licenses, giving an advantage to people who’ve lived in the city for a certain number of years, according to NPR. The legacy provision would have also given preference to those with low incomes or past cannabis-related convictions.

Friedman wrote that proposal was “likely unconstitutional” is his ruling.

“The city ordinance governing the process for obtaining a recreational marijuana retail license gives an unfair, irrational, and likely unconstitutional advantage to long-term Detroit residents over all other applicants,” he wrote.

The most recent ordinance now being considered by council members provides separate avenues for Detroit residents and non-residents to receive licenses, so that that the two types of potential license winners do not compete against each other, Metro Times reported.

Detroit residents seeking licenses will be eligible for city assistance with business plans, networking opportunities and reduced licensing costs under the ordinance