Detroit’s City Council has, at long last, passed an ordinance that will allow the sale of recreational cannabis in the city. This is a big win for the recreational cannabis industry, as the city has long permitted the sale of medical marijuana.
On Tuesday morning, the City Council approved the update to the rules in an 8-1 vote. The development comes after a long-running debate among leaders and communities about how many opportunities should be offered to long-term Detroit residents. Last year, a federal judge decided that the city’s first law, passed in 2020, was “possibly unconstitutional” because it gave too much preference to legacy Detroit residents. After nearly a year of litigation, the recreational cannabis industry in Detroit can finally let go when the ordinance goes into effect on April 20th. (420, how fitting?)
What The Sponsor Of The Legislation Has To Say
“This ordinance is not a perfect ordinance,” marked James Tate, the City Council president pro tempore and sponsor of the legislation, “there is an opportunity beyond today to make advancements. I encourage everyone to continue moving forward and not be discouraged by how challenging this process has been thus far”.
James Tate allowed the changes in the law due to his and the Detroit law department’s expectation that the updated ordinance will be able to pass the constitution’s muster. Additionally, Tate noted that he maintains the opinion that Black and Brown Detroiters will be able to become owners of Detroit recreational cannabis businesses, due to the ordinance’s equity and ample opportunities.
Effects On The Recreational Cannabis Industry
Existing medicinal marijuana businesses in Detroit have stated that the city’s recreational cannabis industry has been hampered by the delay of action towards lifting restrictions and that customers have fled to nearby suburban cities like Ferndale and Hazel Park, where Detroiters can buy edibles and herb without having to renew their medical cards.
There is no denying that Detroit is one of many cities that continuously drag their feet when it comes to passing ordinances such as these that allow the recreational cannabis industry to grow as it should.
Contents Of Recreational Cannabis Industry Ordinance
The new set of criteria for licensing adult-use cannabis companies broadens the Legacy Detroiter program by renaming individuals who apply as “equity” applicants and placing them on a separate trail from nonequity applicants.
Instead of following the guidelines Detroit devised, equity applicants in Detroit will now follow the state’s social equity program as outlined in its adult-use cannabis statute.
According to the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency, the state’s program is intended to promote and encourage participation in the marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement, as well as to positively affect those communities.
[Related Reading: In Michigan, Legal Weed & Voter’s Rights Draft Blueprint for Political Success Nationwide]
Detroit’s Civil Rights, Inclusion, and Opportunity Department must submit a preferred date for when licenses can be given to the City Council, which must then vote to approve that date. Officials from the CRIO said they’ll need 90 days to employ a third-party scoring agency for the license applications and find a way to hold a lottery for any leftover licenses if the scores are tied.
Entrepreneurs who receive a city license are required to seek a state license as well.
The ordinance was supported by City Council President Mary Sheffield because voters overwhelmingly wanted recreational marijuana legalization, which will “create generational wealth, revenue for Detroiters, and the opportunity for our residents to purchase and consume safe and regulated cannabis within our city limits.”
Recreational cannabis businesses and consumers have long dealt with the restrictions, delays, and stigma that come along with their industry. Although this is surely a win for the recreational cannabis industry, it should not be where the fight toward decriminalization of cannabis ends.
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