Recreational weed dispensaries thrive on all sides of Detroit's borders, but the city has only medical-use pot shops a year after state-licensed businesses began non-medicinal sales.
That's how it stays for now after a federal judge blocks local rules.
Under the city's regulations, longtime residents and those with marijuana-related convictions or low incomes get first priority in the license review process for a cannabis business. Applications opened April 1, but a lawsuit halted that process a week later.
Now U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman calls the city's program "likely unconstitutional." Annalise Frank explains in subscribers-only coverage at Crain's Detroit Business:
Longtime residents and those with marijuana-related convictions or low incomes get first priority in the license review process for opening a cannabis business. Applications opened April 1, but a week later a legal challenge halted that process, leaving the adult-use marijuana business in Detroit in limbo.
Now U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ... ordered a preliminary injunction "because the city ordinance governing the process for obtaining a recreational marijuana retail license gives an unfair, irrational and likely unconstitutional advantage to long-term Detroit residents over all other applicants." ...
Friedman writes that ... the ordinance's "favoritism ... embodies precisely the sort of economic protectionism that the Supreme Court has long prohibited. ... [Detroit] has failed to show that its stated goal of assisting those who have been harmed by the War on Drugs is advanced by reserving 50 percent or more of the recreational marijuana licenses for those who have lived in Detroit for at least 10 years."
He bars Detroit from processing license before hearings and a possible trial on the March suit by resident Crystal Lowe, who wants to open a dispensary. She says city licensing rules, originally pushed by Councilman James Tate, discriminate unfairly against outsiders and Detroiters who don't fit the checklist.
The city argues that its Legacy Detroiter Program provides "equal footing" in competition for longtime residents. Frank quotes a statement from city lawyer Kim James:
"We will review the decision and can develop a revised plan to address the judge's concerns.
"In the meantime, one thing is for certain: The City of Detroit will not issue any adult use marijuana licenses unless there is legal assurance that Detroiters will receive a fair share of those licenses."