Detroit marijuana operators sue city after late license revocation

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A group of Detroit marijuana operators are suing the city for revoking a business license years after it was granted and only after they’d invested $15 million in a cultivation operation.

According to a complaint initially filed Nov. 9 in Wayne County, Michigan, but then moved to federal court, Detroit officials granted the would-be business operators a series of permits to run a marijuana cultivation and processing facility beginning in 2020.

The operators – identified in court documents as Cannabis Professional Design, MB City Transportation, HZ Detroit Holdings 1 and HZ Detroit Holdings 2 – purchased an industrial property and commenced improvements.

All was well and a certificate of occupancy was granted in September 2023, only for city officials to inform the businesses on Oct. 27 that the property was within 1,000 feet of a charter school and that the license would therefore be revoked, the lawsuit alleges.

By that time, the operators had already “hired over a dozen employees” and signed an additional $20 million in contracts with third parties for biomass and other services, the lawsuit claims.

The operators filed suit rather than wait until 2024 for a zoning-appeals hearing, court records note.

The lawsuit seeks restoration of the revoked license.

But since the lawsuit claims violations of the applicants’ rights under the U.S. Constitution, attorneys for Detroit moved the case from state to federal court.

On Dec. 1, a judge rejected the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction that would have restored their license and expedited hearings.

More filings in the case are due Dec. 21, and the first court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 30.