What retail recreational cannabis licensing could mean for Detroit

Detroit is fighting to make sure that communities harmed by cannabis’ prohibition have a chance to benefit from its legalization, according to the City Council President Pro Tem.

cannabis plant

It’s been over just over four years since Michiganders voted to make recreational cannabis use legal in this state. Still, for most of that time, you could not buy recreational cannabis in Detroit. That all changed this month as, for the first time, Detroit’s licensed recreational dispensaries began selling cannabis to the public.

It is uncharted territory for the city as many continue to grapple with what the sale of recreational cannabis could mean for the city. Proponents of widespread recreational sales argue that it provides the city with additional tax revenue and oversight of the industry. Still, others argue that local governments should not be in the business of endorsing cannabis use. To them, the tax revenue generated cannot outweigh the cost to local communities.

So how do we reconcile all these concerns?

“When we talk about a city like ours that has been disproportionately impacted by cannabis or marijuana arrest, how do you ensure, to the best of your ability, that those who have been prosecuted in the past have a fair opportunity, a fair shot at licensing?” — James Tate, Detroit City Council President Pro Tem

Listen: What Detroit hopes to accomplish with recreational cannabis licensing in the city.



Detroit City Council President Pro Tem James Tate represents District 1 in Detroit and spearheaded the city’s new ordinance allowing and regulating recreational cannabis businesses. He says the city chose to take the initiative in determining how recreational cannabis licensing would occur within its borders.

“There’s a very crafty, creative and resourceful group of individuals who, if the city of Detroit does not put together ordinances, the licensing process, they will do it for us and put it on the ballot.” says Tate. “So it was very important for me and certainly others to take somewhat of control of what this may mean and look like for the city of Detroit.”

Al Williams is the President of DaCut, a recreational and medicinal cannabis dispensary. He says there is room for even more recreational dispensaries in Detroit.

“I think that Detroit is ripe for more dispensaries. I really do,” says Williams. “In order to make it more inclusive, there are… only a couple of ways that they can do it. And that’s by opening up more locations and allow for more licenses.”

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