Detroit Officials Propose Ordinance For Legalized Recreational Marijuana Sales

A year’s worth of lobbying for adult-use marijuana sales in Detroit is starting to come full circle. 

Councilman James Tate and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan held a press conference Monday informing Detroiters of a proposed ordinance that would permit recreational marijuana sales made by adults.

“The ordinance provides the city [the opportunity] to opt-in to local licensing for all state-approved adult-use categories, those include adult-use retailer establishment, grower, processor, safety compliance facility, temporary marijuana event, micro-business, designated consumption lounge, and secure transporter.”

Tate noted that a number-limit will be associated with certain licenses that can not be largely distributed due to their “competitive nature and the concerns of over saturation.” Others will be accessible to all qualified candidates. 

The ordinance allows for the allocation of 75 total licenses for total retail establishments, commonly known as dispensaries. There are 45 medical marijuana facilities in Detroit; they are eligible to receive a license, but “not less than 50% of licenses are to be awarded to [legacy] Detroiters”, as outlined in the ordinance. “Legacy Detroiters”, are select-applicants who meet a specific set of criteria for social equity program applicants. 

To be considered a “Legacy Detroiter” applicants must have lived in the city for 15 of the last 30 years; have lived in the city for 13 of the last 30 years and qualify as a low-income resident; or have lived in the city for 10 of the last 30 years and have a marijuana conviction. 

A capacity limit will not be placed on the 35 microbusiness licenses. Microbusinesses are typically home-grown operations with a smaller plant count. Detroiters can only sell products that were conceived by their operation.

Detroiters can be applying for a license in January when the process begins. Detroiters who are viewed as a “legacy” will begin the process earlier than their fellow applicants. 

“The process gives Detroiters a chance to get up and running, but also allows people from outside of the city to have a chance to apply as well,” Duggan said.

The former Detroit Police deputy chief is confident about the ordinance’s objectives and any potential outcomes. 

“I believe that what we are submitting is well thought out, respectful of the rights of all, and ensures that residents of Detroit – which has been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs – has a fair chance at the opportunities that the cannabis industry has to offer,” said Tate.

Marijuana criminalization, which was eradicated in 2018 with the legalization of recreational cannabis usage, has had devastating effects on the city of Detroit.

“The people of the city of Detroit voted 69 to 31 to legalize it, and so, I’ve heard from all 31% that voted no, they haven’t changed their opinion, but I work for the people of the city, as does councilman Tate, it’s our responsibility to honor the will of the majority and that means that people in this city want the ability to buy weed legally,” said Duggan. 

Duggan says that the proposed ordinance will offer Detroiters benefits that have not always been available to them.

“In the past when licenses for marijuana businesses become available, they tend to go to non-residents, rather than those who live in this community,” Duggan said. “What Councilman Tate has crafted here in partnership with our law department ensures that longtime Detroit residents will have the opportunity to build real wealth as part of this lucrative new industry.”

The councilman promised that he and other state officials would fight and advocate for Detroiters, a group he believes has gotten the short end of the stick.

“You have recruited leadership that is not only willing, but also equipped to fight until hell freezes over, and then, if necessary, we shall fight on the ice to ensure that Detroiters have an opportunity for inclusion, equity and making sure that we have ownership within this industry.”

The ordinance will be featured as an amendment to the Detroit City Code and its future will be determined by the Detroit City Council. Detroiters will have the opportunity to sit in on public hearings.

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