Judge stops Detroit adult-use cannabis licensing over residency dispute

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A federal judge has temporarily halted Detroit regulators from processing adult-use cannabis license applications in response to a suit challenging the constitutionality of a city ordinance giving preference to longtime residents.

A city official confirmed Detroit is temporarily halting the licensing process.

The city, which started taking applications earlier this year, intends to issue as many as 75 retail licenses, 35 consumption lounge permits and 35 microbusiness licenses.

At least 50% of the licenses must be issued to so-called “Detroit Legacy” residents.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman issued a temporary restraining order that freezes the process, various Michigan media outlets reported, in response to a case filed by Crystal Lowe.

Lowe wanted to apply for an adult-use retail license but doesn’t meet the ordinance requirements even though she has lived in Detroit 11 of the past 30 years.

The social equity ordinance is even stricter, giving priority to residents:

  • Who have lived in Detroit for at least 15 of the past 30 years including the past year.
  • Who have lived in Detroit for 13 of the past 30 years and are low-income.
  • Who have lived in Detroit for 10 of the past 30 years and had a marijuana-related criminal conviction or a parent who did.

Lowe’s attorney has argued that the requirements violate equal-protection provisions of the Michigan Constitution and the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Detroit City Council unanimously approved the ordinance in November 2020 with the goal of providing economic opportunities for residents.

Only a few of the city’s 46 medical marijuana dispensaries are owned by residents, according to the Detroit Metro Times.