Will Detroit Miss Out on Medical Marijuana?


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Understanding medical marijuana in Detroit has been a challenge since day one, but right now it’s especially hairy. Medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2008, but there were no state licensing guidelines until December 2016, when the State enacted the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA). Most dispensaries and grow operations in Detroit have been operating in a gray area – calling themselves “caregiver collectives” and accepting “donations.”

To stay open, dispensaries will need a state license. In order to obtain a state license, businesses must prove they have permission from the municipality they operate in. However, the city of Detroit is not signing attestations for marijuana businesses or issuing new permits because there is a legal challenge against the constitutionality of the city’s new marijuana ordinances, which were voted into law by Detroiters in November 2017.

Over 58% of Detroit voters approved the measures. The city of Detroit’s website says that the proposals effectively repealed the old “caregiver center” system, and the city would begin accepting applications in early 2018. The lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new ordinances was denied injunctive relief, which means the new ordinances should be in effect while the lawsuit continues.

The state licensing application deadline for businesses that are currently open is February 15th. Circuit Court Chief Judge Robert J. Colombo set the hearing for the challenge lawsuit on February 16th. This leaves Detroit business owners in a lurch, because without a state license they may be forced to close.

Attorney Michael Stein, who is representing a group of business owners that were operating under the older, more restrictive Detroit ordinances, has filed 7 lawsuits asking the city to enforce the new ordinances and accept applications. There is a show-cause hearing, where the city must show why they are not accepting applications, on February 2nd at 9am in front of Judge Colombo. The hearing is open to the public.

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