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Judge Halts Recreational Cannabis Licensing in Detroit, Michigan

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A district judge has ruled to halt the issuance of recreational cannabis licenses in Detroit, Michigan due to an ordinance that favors some Detroit residents over other applicants.

District Judge Bernard Friedman granted a preliminary injunction, stopping the city of Detroit from issuing recreational cannabis licenses, saying the city’s process gives an unfair and likely unconstitutional advantage to long-term Detroit residents over other applicants.

When the city initially announced its plans for recreational cannabis, there was a clause in the program text that would require half of the licenses go to “legacy Detroiters,” or people who have lived in Detroit for at least 15 of the past 30 years, including the past year, for 13 of the past 30 years and are low income or for 10 of the past 30 years with a prior cannabis conviction. The initial plan outlined 50 percent of licenses must go to legacy residents.

Crystal Lowe, the plaintiff, claimed the city’s ordinance was discriminatory against those who did not fall under the “legacy Detroiters” category. Lowe has lived in Detroit for 11 years and previously lived in River Rouge.

“The Ordinance’s facial favoritism toward Detroit residents of at least 10-15 years embodies precisely the sort of economic protectionism that the Supreme Court has long prohibited,” Friedman wrote in his opinion.

Friedman said that over 400 legacy applicants were already certified by Detroit before the preliminary injunction was filed. Some of the advocates for the Detroit Legacy program claim thousands of applicants would experience economic harm if the injunction was approved, as some of the applicants had already invested tens of thousands of dollars into projects and businesses. Friedman said any applicant that faces economic harm would be a “result of these applicants investing money before obtaining a license, which they did at their own risk.”

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