DETROIT, MI — Detroit City Council Tuesday passed an ordinance 6-1 that gives the city the ability to license the growing number of marijuana dispensaries.
The next step toward legitimizing dispensaries within the the city limits will come Thursday when the City Council votes on aspects of zoning.
Despite a state Supreme Court ruling in 2013 that determined medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal, Detroit law enforcement has turned a blind eye to the nearly 150 dispensaries that have sprouted up since the voters passed the Medical Marijuana Act in 2008.
Loveland Technologies, a data-mapping organization, in October verified the locations of nearly every Detroit dispensary.
They go by names like Green Pharm; Midtown Budz; Meds-Mart; and Pure Michigan Wellness.
Loveland found that nearly 2/3 of the dispensaries are within 1.15 miles of Detroit suburbs, which have for the most part been adversarial to medical marijuana businesses.
Sixty-two of the Detroit dispensaries are based within 1,000 feet of a school
The Council vote Tuesday gives the city power to establish business license guidelines, inspection requirements, a fee schedule and penalties. On Thursday the Council could vote on laws that determine how close such businesses can be to schools, liquor stores, parks and churches.
“It’s a good start,” says attorney Matt Abel, a co-founder of the Cannabis Counsel, a Detroit-based medical marijuana advocacy legal firm, referring to the proposed ordinances. “It seems fairly conservative to me, and we hope that they’er liberalize it as they move forward.”
Abel says the most recent version of the proposed zoning ordinance removes land zoned for industrial use, which he supports because it could require atients who are sick to visit some of the city’s most polluted areas for their medicine.
Abel would like to see a reduction in the distance that would be required for a dispensary to be from a park.
Abel says the proposed distance is 1000 feet. He’d like to see that reduced to 500 feet.
What seems clear from the Loveland dispensary report and the City Council action, is that Detroit’s medical marijuana industry is here to stay for quite some time.
“Marijuana retail is clearly a growth business,” Loveland wrote in its dispensary report. “The numbers in this report have had to be revised upwards several times as new dispensaries opened, and more are expected to open in the near future.”