Detroit Proposes Limits on Licensed Marijuana Dispensaries

A proposed ordinance in Detroit seeks to limit the number of dispensaries allowed to operate within city limits.
Detroit Proposes Limits on Licensed Marijuana Dispensaries

The City of Detroit may impose limits on the number of licensed marijuana dispensaries it allows. City Councilmember Chris Tate has proposed a new ordinance that caps the number of cannabis dispensaries at 75. The proposal also gives the city authority to regulate businesses involved in cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, testing, and distribution.

The measure also encourages potential owners of cannabis businesses to offer community benefits in their permit applications. Tate told local media that the new ordinance will allow medical marijuana patients and the city at large to coexist.

“Approving this ordinance would finally bring some closure to this issue and chart the path to the future of this industry in the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan,” Tate said. “The goal has always been to ensure that we have an industry that is respectful of the neighborhoods, the communities it is located in, but also considerate to individuals seeking safe access to alternative medication. This ordinance balances those two needs with the preservation of neighborhoods being the top priority.”

Amir Makled is an attorney who represents medical marijuana dispensaries in Detroit. He believes that city officials should not establish arbitrary limits that can hinder the growth of the cannabis economy.

The ordinance goes against “the will of the voters,” Makled said. “I understand the city has an interest in curtailing the amount of dispensaries they have or medical marijuana facilities. But I think they should have allowed the market to determine what was a reasonable amount of facilities to have.”

Can Cannabis be the Economic Boost Detroit Needs?

Makled also said that cannabis is a chance to revitalize Detroit’s depressed economy. But for that to happen, city officials must embrace the new opportunity.

“If Detroit is going to make a comeback and have new industries come into the city, they should welcome this industry,” Makled said. “It can create a tax base and a whole new hub for the industry, so I’m surprised they’re curtailing that growth.”

The new ordinance would also clarify “drug-free zones” and zoning and distance requirements for cannabis businesses. Earlier this year, Chief Judge Robert Colombo Jr. of the Wade County Circuit Court partially overturned Proposal A — which was approved by voters in November 2017, and would have allowed dispensaries within 500 feet of each other. It also allowed dispensaries to locate near liquor stores, child care centers, and other so-called sensitive use establishments.

Judge Colombo also entirely struck down Proposal B, which voters also passed last year. That law established zoning regulations for pot businesses and permitted dispensaries and processors in all business and industrial districts.

Detroit Corporation Counsel Lawrence Garcia said Tate’s proposal will guide the growth of the cannabis industry.

“Detroit’s new, proposed ordinance will…resolve some of the confusion created by some of the misguided zoning restrictions that were originally part of the ballot initiative,” Garcia said in a statement. “In short, the new ordinance, if passed, will clarify Detroit’s common-sense regulation on medical marijuana activity and will allow for all five of the legal uses contemplated by state statute.”

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