Want to apply for a marijuana sales license in Detroit? Here’s a guide.

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Detroiters who are interested in entrepreneurial opportunities through recreational marijuana are advised to begin the months-long application process now. (Shutterstock)

Detroit entrepreneurs can begin to apply for recreational marijuana licenses.

In a unanimous 9-0 vote, city council recently approved James Tate’s amendment to city code to allow recreational marijuana sales in Detroit. Michigan voters supported the sale of recreational marijuana in 2018 with the caveat that cities would determine the parameters. 

Councilman Tate led a team for the past year to determine how to make recreational marijuana sales in Detroit equitable since city residents were disproportionately impacted by criminal marijuana charges. Of the medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, Tate says few are owned by Detroiters. The new amendment requires half of marijuana licensed businesses to be owned by Detroit residents. 

“It’s rare, certainly within my number of years on council that we’ve had this much excitement about an ordinance,” Tate said in a news conference on Wednesday as the city unveiled specific dates and guidelines on how to apply for licenses.

Tate’s amendment has a social equity component that favors longtime Detroiters and Detroiters with or who are related to someone with a previous marijuana conviction. Two weeks after the city council’s vote, Tate and Mayor Mike Duggan say Detroiters who are interested in entrepreneurial opportunities through recreational marijuana should begin the months-long application process.

Step 1. Apply for state approval

The State Marijuana Regulatory Agency is the regulator for all adult-use and medical marijuana licenses in Michigan. Any person or entity applying for a Detroit recreational marijuana license must also obtain a license through the state. Applicants can apply now and expect to pay up to $6,000 for a license but may be eligible for a 10 percent to 40 percent reduction in fees through the state’s Social Equity Program.  

Step 2. Apply for Legacy Detroiter Status

Tate’s amendment requires 51 percent of all marijuana businesses in the city to be held by Legacy Detroiters. Longtime residents and businesses can begin to apply for Legacy Detroit status through the city’s Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity Department (CRIO) on Jan. 19.

Legacy Detroiters must have lived within city limits for one year upon their application date AND

  • Lived in Detroit for 15 of the last 30 years OR
  • Lived in Detroit for 13 of the last 30 years and are low-income OR
  • For those with a marijuana conviction or have a parent with a marijuana conviction, the applicant must have lived in Detroit for 10 of the last 30 years.  

Applicants will be asked to provide documentation including but not limited to their driver’s license and income tax statements to prove their residential status.

Business Legacy Certifications could be for existing medical marijuana businesses who have partnered with a Legacy Detroiter to sell recreational marijuana. Legacy Detroiter and Business Legacy applicants can apply for a state license and with CRIO at the same time.

Any person or entity applying for a Detroit recreational marijuana license must also obtain a license through the state. (Shutterstock)

Step 3. Apply for a business license with the city of Detroit

Applicants will be allowed to file for a business license with the city’s Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environment Department (BSEED) on April 1. Applicants will have to meet specific requirements including:

  • A $1,000 application fee for non-Legacy applicants or a $10 application fee for Legacy Detroit applicants
  • A detailed business plan
  • Three years of income tax returns
  • An authorization for a background check
  • Property tax and blight clearances
  • A business address

Applicants who do not have a business address may be granted a one-year provisional business license. These licenses will only be considered if the city has not yet met the 75-license threshold.

Step 4. Find a location

Through the amendment, Detroiters who are looking for marijuana-related business property will also be given priority. According to Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroiters will be given a 75 percent discount on city-owned property.

Step 5. Undergo application review

Tate’s amendment requires that the city will only issue marijuana business licenses as long as 50 percent of marijuana businesses within the city are owned by Detroiters. Detroit Legacy applicants will have priority within application reviews which will begin on May 1, 2021. All other applicants will undergo review beginning June 16.

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