Detroit Delays Recreational Marijuana Until March, Citing Industry Barriers for Residents

The Detroit City Council voted to delay recreational marijuana sales by two months, citing hurdles for Detroit residents to participate in the industry.

Recreational marijuana sales in Detroit are banned until the end of March, after the Detroit City Council voted unanimously for a delay.

While voters in Michigan legalized marijuana in 2018, the state didn’t allow businesses to open until last December. Many municipalities, including Detroit, opted out. The council unanimously voted for the delay, citing the challenges for city residents to participate in the emerging market. 

“There’s no ordinance that we can pick around the country. We want to be that model.” – Councilman James Tate

“Above and beyond we see the folks who own and operate these facilities living in other places outside of the city of Detroit,” said Councilman James Tate, who led the effort. “That’s not a problem for me at all. But what is a problem is the fact that we don’t have more Detroiters.”  

Tate would not specify the exact legislative fix to address equity issues. But he says it could include an assistance fund or incentives for long-time Detroit residents.

“There may be a situation where a fund is created to assist. There’s a situation where we look at where legacy Detroiters have above and beyond additional incentives over those general applicants.”

“They only allow so many licenses, so if you didn’t have the capital to get passed the state, then you’ve already missed out.” – Renette Jackson, attorney

Attorney Renette Jackson has clients in Detroit’s emerging recreational market. She says lack of financing, resources and access has made it hard for some to operate a legitimate business.

“In the city of Detroit, they only allow so many licenses so if you didn’t have the capital to even get passed the state, then you’ve already missed out on an opportunity to open up a business in the city where you live.”

Jackson says while some of her clients will be impacted by the setback, she supports an equitable program to allow for more Detroiters to enter the marijuana industry.

Tate says Detroit can’t look at other cities for guidance.

“There’s no ordinance that we can pick around the country and say that’s the one we want to model, because it works. We actually want to be that model.”

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  • Eli Newman

    Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.