Detroit Voters Loosen Medical Marijuana Restrictions

Detroit Voters Loosen Medical Marijuana Restrictions

Detroit, Michigan night skyline from across the Detroit river

This past week, voters in Detroit went to the polls to support two ballot proposals that would loosen zoning restrictions and subsequent rules that surround Detroit’s strict medical marijuana industry. The Detroit Medical Marijuana Facilities Ordinance and Detroit Zoning Ordinance passed with 60 percent and 58 percent of voter support, respectively, despite both the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press editorial boards urging “no” votes on the proposals. The new ordinances are in response to the zoning laws passed by the Detroit City Council in March of 2016, leading to the closure of over 186 dispensaries.


The Previous Restrictions

Prior to the March 2016 restriction, almost 300 dispensaries were openly operating throughout the Detroit metro. At the time of a 2015 review by Data Driven Detroit, there were 152 active dispensaries with 59 schools located within 1,000 feet of one dispensary, and 16 located within 1,000 feet of at least two dispensaries.

Once the restrictions took effect, only nine of the roughly 300 dispensaries were approved for operation. Sixty-five dispensaries continued to operate while awaiting the final stages of certification, and over 90 were non-operational while waiting approval.


What The New Proposals Say

When the new ordinances take effect, the following will take place:

  • Dispensaries no longer have distance restrictions in proximity to daycare center, liquor stores, parks, or arcades.
  • Distance restrictions will be reduced from 1,000 feet to 500 feet in relation or religious institutions, or other dispensaries.
  • Opening hours of dispensaries have also been extended from 10:00am – 8:00pm to 9:00am – 9:00pm.

But, the most important change is the establishment of a straight process for licensing dispensaries to be issued by the state of Michigan, where previously it was required that the city hold public hearings and solicit public comment on proposals to open dispensaries.


How The Proposals Affect Detroitonians

According to the aforementioned review by Data Driven Detroit, there were roughly 96,000 legal medical marijuana patients. Post March 2016 restrictions, the majority of those patients found they now had limited access to their prescriptions and providers, spurring both outrage and discussion about the future of medical marijuana in Detroit.  

Both ordinances were voter-lead initiatives created by the Detroit division of Citizens for Sensible Cannabis Reform, a coalition of current dispensary operators, entrepreneurs, and medical marijuana patients and advocates. By expanding range and hours of operation for medical marijuana dispensaries, patients are afforded better and more reliable access to their prescriptions, and the potential for an increase of jobs will allow for better economic development for a still-struggling Detroit.


Are you a medical marijuana user in Detroit? How have you been affected by the previous restriction, and what do the new proposals mean to you? We’d love to hear from you!


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