Detroit’s City Council voted this week on the future of its medical marijuana industry. Only 75 dispensaries will be allowed to open and operate in the city and there will be strict zoning, company size and operation regulations to abide by to not only get the selling license but also licenses for growing, processing, transporting and testing the plant. The decision was made unanimously, with no debate, as all members saw this as a way to strike a balance between honoring the new law and maintaining the general character of Detroit before medical marijuana legalization.
How This Impacts Current Detroit Dispensaries
The ordinance was brought forth by council member James Tate. It goes into a detailed description of the rules for selling, growing, processing, testing and distributing medical marijuana in the city. It does not affect state or federal law but rather works to govern the law in Detroit when it comes to the plant. Businesses applying to sell are being encouraged to show how they plan to help the community as well as comply with all the rules and regulations. Under the city’s emergency law, 62 dispensaries are currently operating with an emergency license. While the ordinance does not affect the dispensaries right now, they must get a license to dispense marijuana by September 15. Otherwise, they will have to close so they don’t risk harming their license application.
Detroit Free Press reported that Rush Hasan, who is a consultant for The Reef, a dispensary in Detroit, said that “it’s definitely a long time coming for a lot of people. This allows us to have a clear understanding on how we move forward. And now everyone is in the same boat because we have that deadline pressure.”
The Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation has already accepted 627 applications for marijuana related businesses in the city. These applications are for licenses related to the many aspects of the industry from processing to testing, cultivation and sale. So far, they have distributed 7 licenses and are in the process of reviewing more applications.
The Will of the People Versus Detroit Lawmakers
Chief Judge Robert Colombo Jr., a Wayne County Circuit Court judge, overturned a voter approved initiative to relax some of the medical marijuana laws; those related to zoning, in particular. The initiative would have allowed dispensaries to open closer to one another and liquor stores among other things. The ordinance was overwhelmingly approved by voters last November only to be overturned by the Judge in February. Placing more restrictions has not been popular among many in the industry although businesses are seeking to comply with the city laws in order to allow for medical marijuana to find its feet in Detroit.
Right now, there are 30 states that have legalized medical marijuana including Michigan. 8 states have also legalized recreational marijuana. All recent national polls indicate that over 80 percent of the country is in favor of legalizing the plant for recreational purposes and over 60 percent are in favor of legal recreational marijuana. Michigan is set to vote on whether to legalize recreational marijuana in the state in November.