Ordinance to opt-out of adult-use cannabis sales in Detroit extended after City Council vote


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Michigan advocates unanimously voted to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes during the 2018 election. However, a recreational market is far from blossoming.

On Tuesday, January 28, the Detroit City Council made a united decision to continue opting out of legal cannabis sales; a vote saw the city extend its ordinance prohibiting an adult-use retail market. 

Approximately 1,400 municipalities have decided to opt-out of the industry since the legalization of recreational cannabis in Michigan was effectuated on December 1, 2019. Detroit is not one of the cities that has been granted a license to sell adult-use weed.

Ordinance to opt-out of recreational cannabis sales in Detroit has been extended twice

James Tate, who serves as the Detroit City Councilperson for District 1, initially introduced a statute to opt-out of legal adult-use weed sales during fall of 2019. The first extension made the opt-out rule valid until January 31, before Councilpersons announced at the end of last year that the temporary ban would continue until March 31. 

As of February 2020, 13 cannabis facilities have been awarded state-issued recreational sales licenses in the south-east Michigan area. They include 1st Quality Medz in River Rouge, The Flower Bowl in Inkster and the Green House of Walled Lake. The majority can be found in Ann Arbor; inclusive of Arbors Wellness, Bloom City Club, Green Planet Patient Collective, Herbology and Greenstone.

There have been delays in the issuing of cannabis business licenses in Detroit, due to the fact that many communities are likely to dismiss the opening of adult-use cannabis stores.

Detroit’s opt-out cannabis retail rule will fuel the black market 

Based on stats published by USA Today, approximately 80 percent of Michigan municipalities have shut their borders to recreational cannabis sales. Since legal governments are being left to deal with the issue of local zoning and rules, local cities are choosing to opt-out of adult-use cannabis sales in Michigan as a means of saving themselves the hassle. Notwithstanding, a lack of legal weed retailers in Detroit and other Michigan municipalities could have a detrimental effect on consumer health.

Worryingly, the slow rollout of cultivation licensing by the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency has led to supply shortages; something that has caused the price of pot to skyrocket in legal stores. In some areas, prices have soared to $480 per ounce, whereas the same amount of cannabis being sold on the illegal market – a.k.a. the “black market” – is available for as little as $300. The fact that black market weed is cheaper than legal, lab-tested products means that consumers on a budget are being forced to seek out their stash from illicit sources. 

A major concern that is being felt across districts that have opted out of Michigan cannabis sales is the safety associated with the illicit vaping market. In mid-2019, a vape lung crisis proliferated across various U.S. states. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the health crisis had left a total of 2,711 people either hospitalized or dead as of January 21, 2020. With that being said, Detroit’s opt-out cannabis retail rule could do more harm than good.