Detroit Finally Allows Recreational Marijuana Facilities


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The City Council of Michigan’s biggest city unanimously approved an adult-use marijuana ordinance on Tuesday. The ordinance will allow Detroit to compete with other municipalities, many of which opted in for allowing recreational facilities months ago. Although the city has a late start, it does have one advantage over other municipalities: Detroit is one of the first cities in Michigan to allow designated consumption lounges.

In total, Detroit will allow 75 adult-use retailers, 35 consumption lounges, and 35 microbusinesses. Unlimited amounts of safety compliance facilities, transporters, processors, growers, and marijuana events will be licensed once approved.

Detroit has allowed medical marijuana facilities for years, but decided to wait before allowing recreational establishments. The city first developed a social equity program intending to benefit Detroiters who were disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs. The social equity legislation was introduced by Detroit City Councilman James Tate.

"I am thankful for the assistance of my colleagues, the social equity workgroup, my staff as well as Mayor Duggan and his team for help in crafting such a comprehensive ordinance. We have taken lessons learned from other cities around the state and country that opened up the adult-use market and applied elements that we believe will help provide opportunity for those seeking to enter and succeed in the cannabis industry. We have taken major steps to address the inequities found in the city's current medical marijuana industry and included provisions that provide genuine opportunity for Detroiters to create generational wealth."

James Tate, Detroit City Councilman

The new ordinance contains many provisions aiming to assist Detroit residents. First of all, at least half of all licenses must be given to “Detroit Legacy” residents. “Detroit Legacy” refers to current Detroit residents who have lived in the city for at least a year before applying for their license, and have also lived in Detroit for either 15 of the last 30 years, or 13 of the last 30 years and have low income. It also applies to citizens who have lived in Detroit for 10 out of the last 30 years and have had a marijuana conviction.

“Detroit Legacy” applicants will pay less in licensing fees than non-Detroiters, as well as have priority in the application process, and have the benefit of applying before any other applicants. They will also have the opportunity to purchase certain city-owned properties at a quarter of the price of fair market value.

In addition to “Detroit Legacy” benefits,  a minimum of $1 million from marijuana sales tax revenue will be dedicated to youth drug abuse programs, as well as social equity initiatives. Detroit expects to generate at least $7 million in yearly tax revenue on recreational marijuana sales alone.

Detroit has taken its time drafting and passing its recreational marijuana ordinance, making sure to take care of Detroiters above all else. The city will begin accepting applications from “Detroit Legacy” applicants on January 1st, 2021. Six weeks later, applicants who already run medical marijuana facilities in Detroit can begin to apply. Other hopeful applicants can begin submitting applications another six weeks later.

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