Detroit’s Medical Marijuana Facilities Ordinance went into effect last week, however a lawsuit has caused all license processing to stop. The lawsuit was issued by a group consisting of business owners who were denied a permit to operate under a previous, less lenient ordinance.
This situation is similar to what happened in Maryland last year, when the state’s medical cannabis program was put on hold due to accusations about racial diversity. In Detroit’s case, the temporary hold was based on concern about the permitting process. Such a hold on progress puts many medical cannabis patients, as well as business owners, at risk.
“It would be improper, administratively wasteful and confusing to the public to implement the initiatives or take any action pertaining to permitting or licensing of marijuana facilities while the litigation is pending in Circuit Court,” Deputy City Corporation Counsel Charles Raimi said in a memo to city officials, according to Detroit Free Press. “Until further notice, the initiatives shall not be implemented and no city department may accept, process or approve any applications for a permit or license for any medical marijuana facility or medical marijuana caregiver center.”
According to the Associated Press, although Michigan began accepting applications on December 15, none of the plans will be able to move forward until this issue is settled. This suit could cause 60 existing dispensaries to close, and they only have until February 15 to submit new applications for their stores. “All the dispensaries operating in the city are going to have to shut down,” said Amir Makled, a cannabis attorney. “Everybody who is a card holder in Detroit is going to be impacted.”
The suit sprang up over the fact that during the licensing process, no dispensaries were allowed within 1,000 feet of another dispensary, church, day care center, school or park. Now, under the new ordinance, dispensaries only have to be 500 feet from these locations. Those who were denied permits earlier because of their location are angry and claiming that they should have been granted the right to open in the first place.
While this is certainly a frustrating hurdle for the local industry, it is not uncommon in areas where cannabis is a new market. The country will be watching to see how Detroit maneuvers through these obstacles to establish a strong and lasting industry.