Detroit Zoning Ordinance Expected to Shutter 50% of Dispensaries

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Up to half of Detroit’s roughly 150 medical marijuana dispensaries could close following a Detroit City Council vote on Thursday to approve a restrictive zoning ordinance.

Under the new ordinance, which goes into effect March 1, there are 651 parcels where a dispensary could set up shop. The dispensaries can locate in four types of industrial zones, and two types of commercial zones, according to Crain’s Detroit Business.

Under the new rules, medical marijuana businesses must be 1,000 feet from schools, childcare centers, libraries, and other youth gathering places, as well as city parks, tax-exempt churches, and other medical marijuana establishments. The rules also allow dispensaries to ask for exceptions from these buffers that would allow them to ignore the 1,000-foot restriction if a location is approved by an appeals board.

Police Chief James Craig said police won’t “arbitrarily” go after dispensaries, just those in clear violation of the law, according to Michigan Public Radio.

Michigan voters approved medical marijuana in 2008, but a lack of statewide rules has led to patchwork MMJ regulations across the state, similar to California and Montana. Dispensaries are still technically illegal, but many exist with the blessing of local governments, which seems to be what Detroit has just given at least some MMJ businesses.

The legislature was also considering a package of regulatory bills, but opted to hold off on those until next year.