Detroit City Council to Consider Recreational Marijuana Licensing

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and James Tate of the Detroit City Council announced a proposed amendment to the city code to allow adult-use recreational marijuana licensing in Detroit. If approved, experts predict the city will benefit from the state’s marijuana industry that is estimated to mature to $3 billion in sales annually.
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marijuana plants
The Detroit City Council is considering an amendment to the city code that would allow adult-use recreational marijuana licensing in Detroit, giving preference to Detroit residents looking to enter the industry. // Stock photo

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and James Tate of the Detroit City Council announced a proposed amendment to the city code to allow adult-use recreational marijuana licensing in Detroit. If approved, experts predict the city will benefit from the state’s marijuana industry that is estimated to mature to $3 billion in sales annually.

The item will be referred to the full body of the Detroit city council this week. If approved following discussions and public hearings, passage would allow licensing for the state-approved categories. If approved by the end of the year, the application process would begin in January.

“We have taken the necessary time to craft legislation that is not aimed at excluding anyone from their goals to succeed in this market but to ensure that we legally provide a pathway towards inclusion and opportunity for residents of our city, which has been disproportionately impacted by marijuana convictions,” Tate says. “Many are now profiting from the same plant that has led to countless criminal convictions, which devastated countless families within our city. The time has come for equity currently not present within Detroit’s cannabis industry.”

The ordinance will favor Detroit residents in the number of licenses issued, discounts on land, and other incentives. It would allow 10 types of licenses: medical marijuana provisioning centers, adult use retailer establishment, grower, processor, safety compliance facility, temporary marijuana event, microbusiness, designated consumption lounge, and secure transporter. At least 50 percent of most license types will be awarded to current Detroit residents who have lived in the city for at least 10 of the last 30 years.

“In the past when licenses for marijuana businesses became available, they tend to go to non-residents, rather than those who live in this community,” Duggan says. “What councilman Tate has crafted here in partnership with our law department ensures that longtime Detroit residents will have the opportunity to build real wealth as part of this lucrative new industry.”

Tate worked with industry professionals and advocates to help craft the social equity program section of the ordinance, which allows the city to provide reductions in application fees for Detroiters who have lived in the city for an extended period of time, including those who have been convicted of past marijuana related offenses and those federally identified as low-income. There are also discounts on certain city-owned properties that will be available for residents certified as Legacy Detroiters.

To qualify for the Detroit Legacy program, people must currently live in Detroit and be able to document that they lived in Detroit for 15 of the last 30 years, lived in Detroit for 13 of the last 30 years and are low income, or lived in Detroit for 10 of the last 30 years and have a marijuana conviction.

Detroit Legacy applicants who do not yet have a property to operate out of will be allowed to apply for a provisional license and will have one year to find a site. Per the draft ordinance, the city will not issue a license if it will result in Detroit Legacy licensees being under 50 percent in each category.

Detroit’s recreational license program will be administered according to five principles:

  1. Detroit Legacy applicants will get a minimum of 50 percent of all newly created recreational marijuana business licenses issued in Detroit.
  2. No license will be issued to any recreational business if it reduces the number of licenses issued to Detroit Legacy applicants below 50 percent.
  3. There will be a six-week exclusive early licensing period for Detroit Legacy applicants.
  4. Detroit Legacy applicants will be able to purchase city-owned land at 25 percent of fair market value.
  5. The city will work with private lenders and philanthropic initiatives to develop sources of funding and expertise to back Detroit-owned marijuana business startups.

The Department of Civil Rights, Inclusion, and Opportunity will begin the certification process of Detroit Legacy applicants once the law goes into effect. After the six-week reserved application review period for Detroit Legacy applicants, there will be a six-week reserved application review period for current Detroit medical marijuana facilities. After both six-week periods, other applications will be considered and reviewed.

The update to the city code would allow for up to 75 medical marijuana provisioning center licenses in the city, 75 adult-use retailers, 35 designated consumption lounges, and 35 microbusinesses. The number of licenses for growers, processors, secured transporters, safety compliance facilities, event organizers, and temporary marijuana events are unlimited. Detroit Legacy applicants will account for at least 50 percent of adult-use retailers, growers, processors, consumption lounge operators, microbusiness operators, and marijuana event organizers.

More information on the ordinance is available here.

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