Detroit to Reopen Adult Use Cannabis Applications After Court Ruling

Detroit plans to reopen its adult-use marijuana application process this week after a Wayne County Circuit Court judge dismissed two lawsuits on Tuesday.

This story was reprinted with permission from Crain’s Detroit and written by Dustin Walsh

The city of Detroit plans to reopen its adult-use marijuana application process this week after a Wayne County Circuit Court judge dismissed two lawsuits Tuesday that challenged the city’s ordinance.

Mayor Mike Duggan and City Council President Pro Tem James Tate announced the reopening during a Wednesday news conference at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.

The city will award 60 dispensary licenses during the first phase with another 100 planned in subsequent licensing phases, the leaders announced. Roughly 20 of the licenses will go to city residents through the city’s social equity program. Another 10 of the licenses will be given to consumption lounges and another 10 for “micro facilities” that grow up to 100 plants. The other 20 licenses in the first phase will be offered to all other dispensary applicants.

Registration opens Thursday and runs for a month. Dispensary licenses are limited to control how many can operate in the city limits, while cultivation and processing licenses are unlimited.

The city was supposed to begin accepting applications for the limited licenses on Aug. 1, but Circuit Court Judge Leslie Kim Smith approved a temporary restraining order on the process in late July at the request of JARS Cannabis, which operates two medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, and District 7 LLC in their lawsuit against the city’s adult-use ordinance.

“Although the city’s 2022 marijuana ordinance is a complicated scheme, it is unambiguous and provides a fair licensing process, which comports with the mandates of the MRTMA (Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act),” Smith said in her ruling Tuesday.

Detroit City Council authorized the sale of adult-use recreational marijuana in the city in the spring, about 2 1/2 years after sales began across the state. The lawmaking body approved the rules in an 8-1 vote, with member Mary Waters casting the lone “no” vote.

Detroit adopted a previous recreational ordinance in early 2021 but it got held up in litigation for nearly a year over a rigorous Legacy Detroiter preference program for long-term residents looking to get involved in the industry. The new ordinance widens the Legacy Detroiter program, calling those applicants “equity” applicants instead, and putting them on a separate “track” so they’re not competing with nonequity applicants. “Equity” applicants in Detroit would follow the state’s social equity program as described in its adult-use cannabis law, instead of the rules Detroit came up with.

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