Aug 10, 2022 - Business

More weed wars over recreational cannabis

Illustration of a checkmark with a marijuana leaf on the end.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

While Detroit's new recreational cannabis law survived one legal attack this week, others are still on deck.

Catch up quick: City Council passed the recreational marijuana law in April to provide a limited number of recreational licenses while setting up a "social equity" framework that helps Detroiters enter the market.

Driving the news: The Detroit Election Commission rejected a ballot initiative Monday designed to overturn the law because it lacked enough valid petition signatures, city clerk Janice Winfrey, who sits on the commission, tells Axios.

But, but, but: A lawyer for the cannabis dispensary House of Dank, which supports the ballot initiative, tells Axios a lawsuit will soon be filed appealing the commission's ruling.

  • A separate lawsuit challenging the marijuana law continues Friday. A temporary restraining order issued last month as part of the case is preventing the city from accepting applications for licenses to open recreational dispensaries, the Detroit News reports.

Why it matters: All these disputes means Detroit's marijuana economy is stuck in neutral — and nobody is backing down.

  • The law was designed to promote local inclusion so the city's recreational marijuana economy isn't dominated by out-of-towners and big companies. But pre-existing medical shops, who aren't allowed to apply for a recreational license until 2027, now say the law is basically a death sentence for developing a holistic business.

What they're saying: "It's kind of this big cluster," Narmin Jarrous, chief development officer of dispensary Exclusive Brands, tells Axios. "Everyone on this side of things is just anxiously awaiting the news every day."

The other side: Councilmember James Tate, architect of the new law, tells Axios that the continued attacks only further delay Detroiters' ability to enter the market.

  • Tate stands by the law, saying "it allows for everyone to compete and participate."

💡 Marijuana FOIA update: We told you last month about our public records request for a list of publicly owned properties zoned for cannabis businesses. The city denied our FOIA request on July 22 because the list is kept by the Detroit Building Authority.

  • So we filed a follow-up request with the DBA and will keep you updated.
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