Detroiters Prioritized Under City’s Recreational Marijuana Proposal

Detroit City Councilmember James Tate introduced the “Detroit Legacy” equity program, giving longtime city residents first opportunity to apply for recreational marijuana business licenses along with other discounts.

When Michigan legalized recreational marijuana in 2018, Detroit chose to “opt-out” of the new law, prohibiting recreational marijuana businesses from operating within the city limits. Now, city officials have crafted a plan and are introducing new rules to regulate the industry.

The draft ordinance shared on Monday by City Councilman James Tate and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan allows for a total of 150 dispensaries in the city, half reserved for medical and the other half for recreational. Other certifications for growing, processing and transporting marijuana would have no cap.

The new ordinance also allows for cannabis microbusinesses, consumption lounges and temporary events.

Prioritizing Opportunities for Detroiters

The legislation reserves half of the emerging recreational licenses to “legacy” Detroiters.

“You must have lived in the city of Detroit for a minimum of 15 out of the last 30 years and be a resident of the city of Detroit for a year prior to submitting your application,” Councilman James Tate says.

The 15-year minimum is lowered to 13-years for low-income residents. Individuals with past marijuana convictions can apply under a 10-year residency. 

The draft ordinance also creates an exclusive business licensing period for Detroit residents who have lived in the city for more than a decade and offers city residents discounts for certification and on purchases of city-owned land.

Tate says the “Detroit Legacy” equity program will ensure the city’s marijuana industry matures in a way that rights the wrongs of the “War on Drugs.”

“We have to make sure that we nurture it properly to make sure that it grows strong, not recklessly,” Tate says. “And is a bridge to generational wealth that has been out of reach for so many families in our city.”

Mayor Mike Duggan says the city is working to partner with philanthropic and private sources to help city residents enter the recreational marijuana market.

According to Duggan, only four out of the 46 medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating in the city are owned by Detroiters. He says that is partly due to state legislation. “The only way to get a license for recreational marijuana dispensaries in Michigan was if you already had a license for a medical facility,” says Duggan.

A draft ordinance will be submitted to committee this week. The application process is expected to start in January, pending Detroit City Council approval of the ordinance.

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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.