Detroit finally begins cannabis licensing process in phases
Cannabis consumers in Michigan’s largest city will finally have a chance to shop closer to home as the city of Detroit in September began accepting applications for adult-use cannabis business licenses for retailers, microbusinesses and consumption lounges.
The city plans to issue a total of 160 licenses during three application phases, the first of which ran from September 1 to October 1 and will include 60 licenses. Those licenses will include 40 retail licenses, 10 micro-business licenses that allow small businesses to vertically integrate and 10 consumption lounge licenses.
Each category of license in all three rounds will have an equal number of general licenses and social equity licenses. To qualify as a social equity applicant under the law, an applicant must be a qualified resident of Detroit or another community determined to be disproportionately impacted by the historical prohibition on marijuana. A business that is at least 51% owned by such a person can also qualify as a social equity applicant.
It has been a long road to get to this point in Detroit. Michigan’s adult-use system first went live December 1, 2019, though the Detroit City Council at that time temporarily banned recreational sales while it developed both its regulations and a social equity program. The council unanimously approved regulations in October 2020 with the goal of issuing permits in the summer of 2021, however a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the city’s program derailed the process and resulted in a federal judge suspending the program in June 2021.
The City Council finally approved a new plan in April, but was again met with lawsuits that delayed the licensing process. In late August, a judge dismissed those lawsuits, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“With the lawsuits and the failed ballot initiatives seeking to overturn our ordinance behind us, Detroiters and other equity applicants will have a fair opportunity to compete for adult-use licenses in a city that welcomes all to participate in the multimillion-dollar adult-use cannabis industry,” City Council President Pro-Tem James Tate said in a press release.
The timing of Phases 2 and 3 of the application process are still to be determined, but each will include an additional 30 retail licenses, 10 micro-business licenses and 10 consumption lounge licenses.
— Brian Beckley