Pontiac May Finally Get Adult Use Cannabis

This comes four years after voter approval.

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

Pontiac City Council plans to finalize a city ordinance on Jan. 10 to allow adult-use recreational marijuana businesses to operate in Oakland County’s sixth-largest city.

The ordinance stems from a 2018 vote by Pontiac residents on the establishment of medical marijuana shops. Voters approved the proposal that called for 20 adult-use marijuana retailers with no license limits for grow operations, processors, or transportation firms.

But not a single business opened during years of infighting between City Council members and Mayor Deirdre Waterman, who strongly opposed marijuana businesses in the city. Waterman named herself to the city’s marijuana commission, which the council said violated the city charter. The delays even led to a lawsuit from Rubicon Capital to redevelop a site to include a medical marijuana retailer. An Oakland County Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the developer in 2021. The site is still not developed.

But with Waterman gone — she lost re-election in 2021 — and the medical market being overtaken by the recreational market, the 20 applicants that received conditional approval for medical marijuana facilities now want the ordinance to allow for recreational facilities as well.

Council met Tuesday in a closed session to review a proposed ordinance that would update it to allow for recreational sales. It did pass an amendment in the closed session to raise the limit on micro businesses — allowing for the growth of up to 150 plants, processing, and direct-to-consumer sales — from three to five, WDIV reported.

It’s unclear when marijuana businesses could open in Pontiac. Still, the conditional applicants have until July to meet the city’s requirements, which include obtaining building permits, hiring employees, establishing wages and making charitable donations, The Oakland Press reported.

It’s also the most difficult time to open a marijuana business since legalization, as prices for recreational weed have plummeted from more than $500 per ounce of flower in early 2020 to $95.12 per ounce in November. Medical marijuana remains slightly higher at $102.60 per ounce. That higher price makes medical marijuana less competitive, which explains why retailers would prefer to sell recreational marijuana.

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