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Applications for Recreational Cannabis Licenses Open in Detroit

In Michigan, two lawsuits were filed earlier in the year challenging Detroit’s recreational marijuana ordinance. But, both lawsuits are overruled and Detroit can now apply for recreational marijuana licenses.

One lawsuit was originally filed by House of Dank (which owns four dispensaries) in May, and argued against the ordinance’s rule that prevents medical cannabis dispensaries from applying for a recreational cannabis dispensary license until 2027.

On Aug. 30, Wayne County Judge Leslie Kim Smith presided. House of Dank v. City of DetroitHe wrote an opinion about the ruling. “Although the city’s 2022 marijuana ordinance is a complicated scheme, it is unambiguous and provides a fair licensing process, which comports with the mandates of the MRTMA [Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act],” Smith stated.

Additionally, Detroit City Spokesperson John Roach said that “the law department is reviewing the recent rulings and we will know more about the licensing process and application timeline in the next couple of days,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

Detroit’s first round of recreational applications were set to begin on Aug. 1, but Judge Smith issued a restraining order that prevented Detroit city officials from proceeding.

JARS Cannabis issued the second lawsuit on June 3. It owns dispensaries throughout Michigan, including two in Detroit. The lawsuit claimed that it violates state law, and presented issues with the city’s scoring system.

Recreational cannabis sales began in Michigan in December 2019, but the city of Detroit didn’t introduce its ordinance to allow recreational cannabis sales until November 2020. After the settlement of two lawsuits, people who wish to obtain a license for operating a microbusiness or dispensary can apply starting Sept. 1.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan spoke at a press conference on Aug. 30, explaining how the last two years of litigation has slowed Detroit’s progress. He described medical cannabis being “controlled by wealthy folks who don’t live in the city, and Detroiters have not benefited from it. Councilman [James] Tate has said we want recreational marijuana businesses in the city but not if that means Detroiters are going to be excluded.”

Duggan expressed confidence in the fairness of the system. “Everyone is entitled to apply tomorrow but we are going to make sure there is equity,” Duggan said. 

Registration is open between Sept. 1 and Oct. 1 through There are 60 licensed dispensaries and consumption lounges available during the initial phase. Half of these licenses will be awarded to social equity applicants, which are individuals who either living in “any community where marijuana-related convictions are greater than the state of Michigan median and where 20% or more of the population is living below the poverty line.”

In three stages, additional 100 retail licenses and 30 consumption lounge licenses for microbusinesses will be available.

James Tate, Councilman of the City of Chicago was also present. “The city’s 2022 marijuana ordinance is unambiguous and provides a fair licensing scheme,” Tate said, reading out a portion of the opinion written by Judge Smith.

Tate spoke directly about Detroit’s future for cannabis. “I am excited that we are on the verge of having Detroiters and other equity applicants having a fair process that will allow them to participate in this multimillion-dollar industry. It is complicated, it is challenging, but it is now possible and that’s the beauty of this fight.”