Detroit plan would create marijuana entrepreneurs. Cannabis convictions OK.

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The Detroit city council will vote on recreational marijuana sales this week. The proposed amendment includes a social equity component that favors longtime Detroit residents. (Shutterstock photo)

Adult-use recreational marijuana licenses may be available in Detroit next year.  

City councilman James Tate and Detroit mayor Mike Duggan announced a proposed city ordinance Monday that would allow entrepreneurs to apply for licenses to operate retail, growing, processing or other marijuana businesses. The city council will vote on the proposal this week. Current city code allows only medical marijuana sales. The proposed amendment includes a social equity component that favors longtime Detroit residents and longtime Detroiters who have previous marijuana convictions. Tate and Duggan say this added component will create equitable business opportunities in the city while safely allowing Detroiters to consume cannabis.

There are 46 legal medical marijuana dispensaries within Detroit city limits. Just four of these entities are owned by Detroiters, according to Tate.

Detroiters will have access to 10 types of recreational marijuana licenses if the city council approves the city code amendment this week. (Photo courtesy of the City of Detroit).

The ordinance would create 10 types of marijuana-related business operations. Of the 75 licenses that would be available, 50 percent must belong to “Legacy Detroiters,” or residents who have lived in the city for a certain amount of time. The city will not allow anyone to obtain a license should the ratio drop below 50 percent.


Legacy Detroiters include:

  •       Residents who have lived in Detroit for 15 of the last 30 years, or
  •       Residents who have lived in Detroit for 13 of the last 30 years and are low income, or
  •       Residents who have lived in Detroit for 10 of the last 30 years and have a marijuana conviction.

Each of the three Legacy Detroit options must also live within the city for a year prior to applying for a license. Legacy Detroiters will be charged only 1 percent of application fees, Tate said during the news conference. Detroiters can apply for the state’s pre-qualification process now and will be allowed to become a certified Detroit Legacy applicant as soon as Feb. 1—six weeks before anyone else.

Detroit applicants will also have the option of purchasing city-owned land at 25 percent of the market value.

Tate and a group of Detroiters have been working on this issue for a year. The councilman said he’s received threats of lawsuits due to the proposal. However, Detroit’s plan will still favor Detroiters, the councilman said during Monday’s news conference.

“You’re gonna be a hot commodity,” Tate said to Detroiters who will qualify for the license.

Michigan voters approved the sale of recreational marijuana in 2018 with the caveat that cities could determine whether sales would be prohibited within city limits. Almost 70 percent of Detroiters approved the 2018 ballot proposal. The state previously required recreational applicants to hold a medical marijuana license. Beginning in March, aspiring recreational license holders will no longer be required to hold a medical license.  

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