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Detroit Dispensaries To Remain Open During Lawsuit

By Ayanna Rutherford
Jan 15, 2018

Detroit’s dispensaries will be allowed to remain open while the city deals with a pending lawsuit by a business group challenging new city ordinances.  In November, voters of Wayne county overwhelmingly supported two ballot measures, known as Proposals  A and B which eased the harsh zoning laws passed by Detroit’s City Council. 

The new laws called for the city to implement an application process so that businesses can apply for a license or permit through the city on Jan. 4.  City officials decided to halt the process altogether while they worked to address the pending lawsuit.  This decision left the 62 Detroit dispensaries in fear that they would be forced to shut their doors by Feb. 15 under the state of Michigan’s new marijuana laws. 

The 2008 Medical Marihuana Program

In 2008 Michigan launched its medical marijuana program.  Under the 2008 law, individuals were allowed to grow up to 12 plants and provided medical marijuana for up to five patients as caregivers.  Dispensaries operated in ambiguous areas with the lack of a proper regulatory structure and general control.  Businesses were operating in an undefined area of the law causing many businesses to be raided and shut down. The state faced a lot of criticism due to the lack of oversight and regulation of the program. 

New Michigan Regulations

Michigan’s legislature voted for and Gov. Rick Snyder signed House bills 4209, 4827 and 4210, creating a license and regulatory home for medical marijuana in 2016.  This legislation offered more governance to a system many believed was out of control which included a state application process.  Under the new law, the state’s medical marijuana program is housed at the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs known as LARA.

In December 2017 LARA released its application for medical marijuana licenses.  The uncertainty that looms with the new lawsuit and the new state application process left many businesses wondering if they were going to be able to continue to serve patients after Feb. 15.  LARA stepped in and is allowing businesses currently operating in the city to remain in business until June 15, hoping that the suit is resolved.

Over 75,000 Detroit Metro Area Patients

There are over 75,000 patients registered with the state’s medical marijuana program in the Detroit metro area. Many let out a huge sigh of relief as the Detroit dispensaries are allowed to remain open during this legal showdown. Had the dispensaries been forced to close by the city, patients would be left with limited or in some cases without any treatment for ailments like cancer, epilepsy and HIV/AIDS.

Financial Impact

In a city that has experienced troubling financial times over the last couple of decades, the medical marijuana program could be a very lucrative industry.  Dispensaries employ individuals in various capacities and utilize a number of services like transportation, payroll and security consulting.  The Feb. 15 closure would have left many individuals city-wide unemployed and many businesses that service dispensaries without clients. 

There is currently no timeline for the resolution of the lawsuit. 

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