Another lawsuit targets Detroit’s adult-use marijuana licensing ordinance

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Detroit’s revised adult-use marijuana ordinance has provoked yet another lawsuit, this time from a hopeful MJ business owner and a company that operates multiple medical cannabis dispensaries in the city.

According to the Detroit Free Press, plaintiffs Arden Kassab, an aspiring cannabis entrepreneur, and PharmaCo, a subsidiary of marijuana multistate operator Red White & Bloom, want the court to halt the city’s application process for limited retail, microbusiness and consumption lounge licenses.

The plaintiffs:

  • Allege that the licenses are being unfairly allocated to longtime residents.
  • Want Detroit to create a new ordinance, which would be the city’s third.

The current ordinance, which was passed in April, allocates half the limited licenses to candidates who qualify under the social equity program and includes longtime residents of the city and neighboring communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.

The city of Pontiac is one of those communities.

Plaintiff Kassab said that even though he lived in that city for many years and was convicted of a marijuana-related felony, he doesn’t qualify because he no longer lives in Pontiac.

PharmaCo, meanwhile, alleges it doesn’t qualify for a recreational license unless it divests real estate and portions of its business to “obtain social-equity points.”

A spokesperson for Detroit declined to comment to the Free Press.

The revised ordinance was created after a U.S. district judge said in December 2021 that the first ordinance was “likely unconstitutional” because it unfairly gave preference to longtime residents.

But the new law spurred several lawsuits before Kassab and PharmaCo filed theirs.

Red White & Bloom closed its acquisition of PharmaCo in February.

The application window for the initial round of limited licenses in Detroit closes Oct. 8.

An independent consultant still must be approved by the city to evaluate applications.