Adult-use cannabis licensing in Detroit stopped by judge following residency dispute

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A federal judge has temporarily suspended Detroit regulators from dealing with adult-use cannabis license applications. The ruling emerges following a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of a city ordinance prioritizing longtime residents.

The temporary halting of Detroit’s adult-use cannabis licensing process has been confirmed by a city official. In response to a case initiated by hopeful licensee Crystal Lowe, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman proceeded to issue a temporary restraining order that put the breaks on the process.

Lowe was optimistic that her application for an adult-use retail license in Detroit would be accepted. However, her hopes have been down after she was informed that, in spite of her 11 years of residency within the last 30 years, she doesn’t meet the ordinance requirements.

The commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution and the equal-protection provisions outlined in the Michigan Constitution have been violated, says Lowe’s attorney.

Applications initially opened up at the start of the year. Once all spots are filled, approximately 75 retail licenses, 35 consumption lounge licenses and 35 microbusiness licenses will be offered.

Half of adult-use cannabis licenses must be issued among “Detroit Legacy” residents.

The rules for Detroit’s adult-use cannabis licensing process clearly state that at least 50 percent of the licenses awarded to lucky applicants must be offered to “Detroit Legacy” residents. 

Someone who falls into this category of residential status will tick one of the following boxes:

  • Must have resided in Detroit for 15 of the last 30 years;
  • Must have resided in Detroit for 13 of the last 30 years and be on a low income;
  • Must have resided in Detroit for 10 of the last 30 years and either have a parent with a cannabis conviction or have a cannabis conviction themselves.

The ordinance was approved by the Detroit City Council in November 2020 with the aim of offering residents economic opportunities. Currently, just a handful of the city’s 46 medical cannabis dispensaries are resident-owned.

Michigan’s adult-use cannabis sales hit milestone

The combined medical and recreational cannabis markets in Michigan continue to reap the financial rewards. Monthly sales figures demonstrate market maturance, with March sales revenue accounting for $115.4 million. When compared to revenue earned in March of last year, the latest figure is more than double.

The state’s adult-use cannabis market kicked off in the year 2019, when more than $500 million was logged in annual sales. Since this time, things have progressed in a northerly direction, with leading cannabis data and marketing intelligence solution firm Headset  reporting 1.4 million statewide cannabis transactions in March. 

For the month of April, analysts from Seattle-based Headset foresee cannabis sales in Michigan inflating at a rapid rate. They attribute this projected increase to the fact that cannabis consumers will likely be upping in their intake as part of the 4/20 celebrations.

Currently, a total of 410 medical cannabis dispensaries and 260 adult-use cannabis stores can be found sprinkled across the state of Michigan.