Detroit City Council debates marijuana ordinance

Public hearing will be on Tuesday, April 5

Michiganders voted to legalize recreational marijuana back in 2018. However, as it stands three-plus years later, the city of Detroit still doesn't have a finalized plan for businesses to sell it. It's been caught up in court battles over who should be allowed to profit from it. But that all came to a head Tuesday (March 22) at Detroit City Council.

DETROITMichiganders voted to legalize recreational marijuana back in 2018. However, as it stands three-plus years later, the city of Detroit still doesn’t have a finalized plan for businesses to sell it.

It’s been caught up in court battles over who should be allowed to profit from it. But that all came to a head Tuesday (March 22) at Detroit City Council.

“There’s no 100% right in this situation, said a man during the committee meeting. “All we can do is push forward with what we have and constantly amend it.”

It’s been a painstaking wait for some Detroit business owners hoping to open recreational marijuana shops in the city.

“Yes, let’s get this right but let’s remember that there are business owners that are subject to closure the longer that this is delayed,” said another man during the committee meeting.

The Detroit ordinance before council would reserve half the licenses for social equity applicants and consider factors like drug convictions and communities severely impacted by drug policies.

“The city council has the opportunity to approve the new ordinance today, which gives us current Black operators as well as newcomers, social equity as well as outsiders opportunity into the cannabis industry no other city is doing this,” said a woman during the committee meeting.

Some felt the ordinance was being rushed through.

“We feel that we’d like to go to a public health committee and voice our concerns,” said another man during the committee meeting.

After listening to public comments, the city council held a one-hour closed session irking some in attendance.

“Instead of going through closed session and discussing it in a smoky backroom, how about you bring these discussions out in a public hearing space,” said another man during the committee meeting.

“There will be a public discussion regarding marijuana ordinance,” said City Council President Mary Sheffield. “The only reason we’re going into closed session is to discuss pending litigation against the city of Detroit.”

“I know again spooky language makes headlines,” said City Council President Pro Tem James Tate. “There is no smokey backroom.”

The public hearing will be on Tuesday, April 5.


About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.