Detroit City Council Approves Recreational Marijuana Sales

Timeline of Recreational Marijuana in Detroit Since State Legalization

In the two years since marijuana was legalized at the state level by popular vote in the 2018 elections, the introduction into the mainstream marketplace has seen its challenges. While an overwhelming majority of Michiganders voted to legalize marijuana in 2018, many local cities have chosen to exclude recreational marijuana retailers as a way to “keep marijuana out of their cities.” There are more than 1,400 municipalities who have blocked recreational marijuana businesses from opening in their areas. Since legalization, adult-use retail sales have eclipsed $375 million, with a very limited number of retail stores in Michigan. This number is expected to significantly increase with the long-awaited introduction of the city of Detroit into the legal recreational marijuana marketplace. Detroit City Council recently voted on a measure to allow recreational marijuana sales, along with a number of other licenses and permits related to the recreational industry.

Detroit City Council Ordinance Allowing Recreational Sales

In approving measures to open recreational marijuana businesses in the city, Detroit City Council agreed to issue up to 10 different types of licenses, which include:

• Medical marijuana provisioning center,
• Adult-use retailer,
• Grower,
• Processor,
• Safety compliance facility,
• Marijuana event specific license,
• Microbusiness,
• Consumption lounge, and
• Secure marijuana transporter.

All employment positions at any licensed marijuana seller in Detroit must start at $15 per hour. The city expects to issue up to 75 new retail licenses for marijuana recreational sales. Certain applicants, known as “Detroit Legacy,” applicants have at least half of these licenses reserved for them. For an applicant to qualify for the Detroit Legacy program, he or she must have lived in the city of Detroit for at least 15 of the last 30 years; or have live in the city of Detroit for 13 of the last 30 years and qualify as low income; or have lived in the city for 10 of the last 30 years and have a marijuana conviction. Those who qualify as Detroit Legacy applicants will be allowed to purchase city-owned land for 1/4 of the normal fair market value. Under this program, all application fees will be pegged at 1% of the total cost of the property and applicants will be given a six-week exclusive licensing period. Those who already are operating medical facilities in the city will also be given a six-week application period prioritizing their applications before the applications of others who are interested. There will be a license cap for certain businesses to control competition and to prevent oversaturation of the recreational market in Detroit. The number of licenses held by Detroiters will always be at least 50% according to the legislation.

What to Expect Next in Detroit

Mayor Mike Duggan has stated that the city of Detroit currently has 46 medical marijuana dispensaries in operation. Only four of these 46 shops are owned and operated by Detroit residents. This disparity has shown the need for programs such as the Detroit Legacy program and others that will help include Detroit residents in the growth of the recreational marijuana industry in Southeast Michigan. Detroit City Council unanimously approved the introduction of adult-use recreational marijuana into the legal business arena in the city, and it is expected to take off quickly. Marijuana event permit requests can be made by submitting an application at least 90 days prior to the event if it is held at a privately owned location. The ordinance also will limit the total amount of consumption lounges (think Amsterdam coffee shops) and microbusinesses at no more than 35 across the city of Detroit.

Surrounding Cities and Their Recreational Marijuana Sales Laws

Cities surrounding Detroit such as Hazel Park, Ferndale and others have already allowed recreational marijuana businesses to open up. The COVID-19 pandemic actually led to a significant increase in recreational marijuana sales across Southeast Michigan. While Detroit may be late to the party, it is expected that the city’s recreational business will easily eclipse the recreational business numbers of surrounding cities due to the sheer size of the city of Detroit. If and when other cities will eventually follow suit and allow recreational marijuana sales still remains to be seen. The legalization of marijuana at the federal level will likely change the mentality and approach of local towns when they go to decide if they want recreational marijuana businesses in their towns. Such measures have been discussed more and more in recent times as the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana have spread across more than half of the states in the country today.

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At Grabel & Associates, we bring over 100 years of combined experience in defending people in drug cases across the state of Michigan. Call us today for a free consultation at 1-800-342-7896.

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