Detroit’s city council was poised to implement medical cannabis zoning regulations, but then voters stepped in and overturned those regulations — and then a circuit judge overturned the voters. The resulting legal quagmire could cost Motor City millions. The tumultuous recent history of cannabis decriminalization in Michigan began in 2008 with the voter approval of the Michigan Compassionate Care Initiative, which decriminalized medical cannabis for patients with qualifying conditions.
In the absence of a regulatory framework, a self-regulated medical cannabis market expanded rapidly, inspiring a legal backlash that culminated in a 2013 Michigan Supreme Court ruling that medical marijuana dispensaries were not protected by the state’s medical cannabis law and could be shut down as a “public nuisance.”
But by 2016, the state legislature had approved a new medical cannabis law that created a tax and licensing framework, inspiring local municipalities to create their own regulatory structures for medical cannabis, which is right about the time when Detroit emerged as a legal and political battlefield.
Motor City was once home to more than 250 dispensaries, but that number is down to 62 since the start of 2018, the result of a major crackdown in 2017 that saw most clubs in the city shuttered. This stepped-up enforcement was part of the city’s plan to implement new medical marijuana regulations, but when voters rebelled against the plan, things got messy.
From the Detroit Free Press:
Detroit was in the process of drafting an ordinance last year that would have limited the number of marijuana businesses and enacted strict guidelines on where those businesses could be located and how they would get approval from the city. As a part of that effort, the city shuttered many of its dispensaries, leaving only about 70 to continue operating under emergency rules crafted by the