A battle is shaping up over two Detroit ballot proposals on medical marijuana, and things got pretty heated between supporters and opponents of the measures Thursday.
A group of City Council members, pastors, and community activists held a press conference to urge “no” votes on the two ballot questions next month. But a few pro-medical cannabis activists showed up too, with the two sides exchanging impromptu jabs at times.
One ballot proposal would opt Detroit into the state Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act. Proponents say that would strengthen regulations on medical marijuana facilities. The second ballot proposal would amend the city code to allow marijuana growers, “secure transporters,” and other ventures to operate in certain areas of the city.
Opponents say Detroit just passed a city ordinance setting rules for medical pot operations last year, and these proposals would directly undermine parts of that ordinance.
Marcus Cummings of the Metropolitan Detroit Community Action Coalition says that ordinance is working.
“We have, I believe, about 60 dispensaries that have their license properly through the city,” Cummings said. “So we just want to make sure that we keep what we have in place, and not mess it up.”
The ordinance was passed largely in response to the sense that the medical marijuana industry was taking advantage of lax regulations to set up shop in Detroit. Residents complained some neighborhoods became saturated with fly-by-night operations that became magnets for crime and nuisance violations, particularly as neighboring suburbs cracked down on dispensaries.
Last year, Detroit identified over 280 dispensaries operating “illegally.” The city says it has shut down 175 of them.
Cummings and some other activists say they’re particularly concerned the ballot measures would erase zoning regulations that restrict where dispensaries can locate, including within 1000 feet of designated spots like schools, churches, and