Detroit’s promised marijuana dispensary crackdown seems to be underway, with 22 shops closed since the first of the month.

CBS Detroit is reporting that city officials want to see 66 closed in the near-term that the city says are operating in drug-free school zones. The city is filing 5-6 suits per week as almost all of Detroit’s pot shops are currently operating in violation of a recently passed ordinance that not only requires a special business license for medical marijuana dispensaries, but also prohibits the shops from operating within 1,000 feet of churches, parks and schools and parks. The license requires background checks, to comply with state law, and not have a drive-through.

There is the ability to apply for a variance, and nearly 200 have applied for licensing.


This map from the city Detroit shows all of the areas a dispensary can not operate without a variance. For a fully searchable address list of allowable parcels, click here. Being that almost the entire city is off-limits, it in practice means that the city government can pick and choose where dispensaries go on a case-by-case basis.

There’s some controversy around the program because there’s no “grandfather clause,” where the city would allow shops to remain open while the new licensing process is underway. Medically prescribed marijuana is legal in Michigan thanks to the 2008 Michigan Medical Marijuana act. That act covers caretakers providing care to up to five patients; but nothing speaks to retail sales. Marijuana also remains illegal on the federal level.

According to a previous Crain’s report, city corporation counsel Melvin “Butch” Hollowell estimates that the number of dispensaries in the city will go down to 50 or so.

There are very few dispensaries in the suburbs.

Mayor Mike Duggan, a former prosecutor, has been on the record as not friendly toward marijuana dispensaries. He praised city councilman James Tate for his efforts on the ordinance, saying in his State of the City address earlier this year that he is “the man responsible for the fact that we’re finally going to start shutting down marijuana dispensaries in the city of Detroit.”

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