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Detroit to open applications for licenses for recreational marijuana dispensaries, consumption lounges

Detroit City Council President Pro-Tem James Tate
City of Detroit
Detroit City Council President Pro-Tem James Tate

Applications will open this week for people to apply to open a recreational marijuana dispensary in Detroit.

This comes after a Wayne County judge dismissed two lawsuits against the city’s marijuana ordinance.

Wayne County Judge Leslie Kim Smith dismissed two lawsuits, from House of Dank and Jars LLC, saying that no preference was given to “equity” applicants over non-equity applicants.

"The ordinance does not prevent Plaintiffs from obtaining a co-location license for an adult use establishment. Moreover, Plaintiffs may apply again in 2027 for an adult use license without regard to numerical caps. Therefore the ordinance does not violate any discernable provisions of the MRTMA. Although the City's 2022 marijuana ordinance is a complicated scheme, it is unambiguous and provides a fair licensing process," the ruling says.

House of Dank declined to comment.

City Council President Pro-Tem James Tate is behind the city’s marijuana ordinance.

"I am excited at the fact that we are on the verge of having Detroiters and other equity applicants in the city of Detroit 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 that we have going into," Tate said during a Wednesday press conference.

The applications for recreational marijuana licenses will open Thursday at 8 a.m. and will close October 1.

The city wants to award 60 licenses from this first round of applications. Forty will go to dispensaries, 10 micro-businesses that are allowed to grow and sell weed and 10 marijuana consumption lounges.

"What is different about this process and why we have been opposed in litigation for the last two years is this that the medical marijuana operation in the city has overwhelmingly been controlled by wealthy folks who don't live in the city of Detroit, and Detroiters have not benefited from the marijuana business in," Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said during the conference.

Half of the licenses will go to social equity applicants, who live in areas that have been disproportionately harmed by the prohibition of marijuana. An owner must own at least 51% of the company to be eligible for a social equity licenses.

These 60 licenses are just the first phase. 100 more licenses will be given out over two phases. A date has not yet been determined for the next two phases.

The Mayor's Office says that the adult-use marijuana industry is expected to yield $3 billion in annual revenue in Michigan by 2024.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
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