The (Eastern) market for weed
Detroit is considering opening the historic Eastern Market district for cannabis businesses.
Why it matters: Detroiters voted overwhelmingly to legalize recreational weed in 2018. But there's still been some pushback when it comes to where sellers should be able to set up shop.
- Rule changes in Eastern Market could mark a significant incursion into greater downtown by the hot industry.
The latest: City Council on Tuesday approved Eastern Market zoning amendments years in the making that were aimed at allowing the area's food businesses to grow while preserving the neighborhood long known for shopping, food and agricultural businesses.
- Vincent Serio, an area building owner, is among those who advocated for this process to include cannabis business uses, according to Serio's comments at a planning commission meeting last month.
- But it does not. City Planning Commission staff members are studying if and how Detroit leaders should change zoning rules to allow weed shops separately.
- Officials haven't made a final decision before an engagement period to gather residents' thoughts ends, staff members tell Axios. The next meeting is Sept. 29.
Between the lines: If the city were to move forward, it would require either the complicated process of making an exception and carving out part of Eastern Market from certain zoning rules, or making citywide zoning changes, city planner Kimani Jeffrey tells Axios.
- Cannabis is currently prohibited, not just because of the general Eastern Market zoning update, but also because pot shops aren't allowed within 1,000 feet of churches, schools and liquor stores.
- The latter means that even before Tuesday's changes, selling legal pot was mostly not allowed in Eastern Market.
What they're saying: Eastern Market Partnership, the nonprofit that runs the markets, is in favor of a couple cannabis businesses opening, president Dan Carmody tells Axios.
- "It is a product of the land," he says. "We'd like to see some of it, we don't want to be overrun."
Meanwhile, Detroit is also looking to lower the distance all cannabis businesses need to legally be from places like schools and churches to 750 feet. This would open up more spaces for use in an industry beset by high real estate costs.
- Detroit is trying to make the industry more equitable by encouraging longtime residents to participate, but it's been an uphill battle.
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