Detroit bans recreational marijuana sales, joining 79% of Michigan municipalities 

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Recreational marijuana dispensaries will begin opening on Dec. 1, but 79 percent of the state's communities have banned the businesses from opening.

Last week, the city of Detroit became the latest municipality to pass an ordinance barring growers and dispensaries from operating.

Nearly 1,400 of the state’s 1,773 cities, townships, and villages have chosen to prevent recreational marijuana businesses from opening, even though voters in most municipalities supported legalization of pot for anyone 21 years or older in November 2018.

Those municipalities will miss out on a share of the 10-percent excise tax on recreational marijuana sales. Recreational pot is expected to become a multibillion-dollar industry in Michigan that will create new jobs and provide a significant amount of new revenue for roads, schools, and municipalities.
In the first full fiscal year, marijuana sales are projected to generate $180.5 million in taxes, according to the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency. That number is expected to grow to $287.9 million by 2022-23.

Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Ferndale are expected to be hubs for recreational marijuana businesses.

On Nov. 1, the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency began taking applications for recreational businesses, including dispensaries, growers, and processors.

So far, 47 businesses have pre-qualified for a recreational license. Some of them are in Detroit but can’t open until City Council lifts the ban.

The council waited until Nov. 5 — five days after the application process began — to unanimously pass the ban. The council had more than a year to act.

The ban, proposed by Councilman James Tate, is intended to be temporary to at least Jan. 31 so the city can create regulations for recreational marijuana. It’s unclear why council members waited so long. It caught prospective new business owners by surprise.

The Reef, which operates a large medical marijuana dispensary in Detroit, applied for a recreational license this month.

“Detroit completely dropped the ball,” Rush Hasan, head of operations and business development at the Reef, tells Metro Times. “Unfortunately it affects all of the businesses in Detroit.”

City council members said they hope to create new regulations by the end of January so the ban can be lifted.

Under the recreational marijuana law, which was approved by 55.9 percent of voters, residents can override municipalities' bans by gathering petitions to put the issue on the ballot. The first community to challenge a ban was Royal Oak Township on May 7. But only 377 voters turned out, and the referendum was defeated. Since then, residents in about 10 other communities turned down proposals to overturn bans.

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