Two lawsuits filed in Michigan earlier this year challenged the recreational cannabis ordinance in Detroit. However, the lawsuits have now been ruled on, and the city can proceed with recreational cannabis license applications.
One lawsuit was originally filed by House of Dank (which owns four dispensaries) in May, and argued against the ordinance’s rule that prevents medical cannabis dispensaries from applying for a recreational cannabis dispensary license until 2027.
Wayne County Judge Leslie Kim Smith on Aug. 30, who presided over House of Dank v. City of Detroit, wrote about the ruling in his opinion. “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 stated.
Additionally, Detroit City Spokesperson John Roach said that “the law department is reviewing the recent rulings and we will know more about the licensing process and application timeline in the next couple of days,” according to the Detroit Free Press.
Detroit’s first round of recreational applications were set to begin on Aug. 1, but Judge Smith issued a restraining order that prevented Detroit city officials from proceeding.
The second lawsuit was issued on June 3 by JARS Cannabis, which owns two dispensaries in Detroit, and more throughout the state. The lawsuit claimed that it violates state law, and presented issues with the city’s scoring system.
Recreational cannabis sales began in Michigan in December 2019, but the city of Detroit didn’t introduce its ordinance to allow recreational cannabis sales until November 2020. Now with the resolution of the two lawsuits that were putting the plans on hold, those who want to apply for a license to operate a dispensary, microbusiness, or consumption lounge, can do so as of Sept. 1.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan spoke at a press conference on Aug. 30, explaining how the last two years of litigation has slowed Detroit’s progress. He described medical cannabis being “controlled by wealthy folks who don’t live in the city, and Detroiters have not benefited from it. Since the beginning, Councilman [James] Tate has said we want recreational marijuana businesses in the city but not if that means Detroiters are going to be excluded.”
Duggan also expressed his confidence that the system is fair. “Everyone is entitled to apply tomorrow but we are going to make sure there is equity,” Duggan said.
Registration is open between Sept. 1 and Oct. 1 through homegrowndetroit.org. During the first phase, 60 licenses are available (40 dispensaries, consumption lounges, and 10 microbusinesses. Half of these licenses will be awarded to social equity applicants, which are individuals who either living in “any community where marijuana-related convictions are greater than the state of Michigan median and where 20% or more of the population is living below the poverty line.”
Later on, 100 more retail licenses, 30 consumption lounge licenses, and 30 microbusiness licenses will become available, spread out in three phases.
Councilman James Tate was also at the press event. “The city’s 2022 marijuana ordinance is unambiguous and provides a fair licensing scheme,” Tate said, reading out a portion of the opinion written by Judge Smith.
In his own words, Tate also spoke about the future of cannabis in Detroit. “I am excited that we are on the verge of having Detroiters and other equity applicants having a fair process that will allow them to participate in this multimillion-dollar industry. It is complicated, it is challenging, but it is now possible and that’s the beauty of this fight.”
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