26 Metro Detroit Burger Kings to close; 400+ to be laid off

Black-owned, legacy Detroit marijuana dispensary opens on west side

Hannah Mackay
The Detroit News

Detroit — More than four years after Detroiters overwhelmingly voted to approve recreational marijuana sales, the city's first “legacy Detroit” Black-owned recreational marijuana dispensary opened Saturday as part of the city's social equity program.

Nuggets Dispensary's opening at 18270 Telegraph is the result of a 2018 ballot proposal that outlined a plan to "encourage participation in the marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition and enforcement."

"This doesn't happen everywhere. Where you got African Americans, you got legacy Detroiters, you got disproportionately impacted communities by marijuana, and we ensured and fought to ensure that we were a part of this," Deputy Mayor Todd Bettison said Saturday at the dispensary.

The City Council approved a revised recreational marijuana ordinance last April after a federal judge ruled that the city's initial ordinance was "likely unconstitutional" because it showed too much preference toward legacy Detroiters. The new ordinance created two licensing tracks, one of which is for social equity.

Detroit native Amber Evans, left, works as a budtender at Nuggets Dispensary, the city's first “legacy Detroit” Black-owned recreational marijuana dispensary as part of its social equity program. The 32-year-old helped her fellow budtender, Makiyah Taylor, check out at the dispensary's opening. Taylor, also a native Detroiter, was off the clock.

The new ordinance was challenged in court shortly after it was approved, but the lawsuits were dismissed last summer. Nuggets Dispensary is the first new adult-use marijuana retail licensed establishment to open in Detroit under the revised ordinance, the city said in a news release.

Nuggets Dispensary provides a new opportunity to change how cannabis plays a role in the lives of Detroiters, City Council President Pro Tem James Tate said at the store's opening.

"There's many chapters that are dedicated to the pain and the trauma that we're still... trying to get over. Families were ripped apart for $5 to $10 bags of weed," Tate said. "We're still trying to get over that trauma today for that same plant that many people today are making a pretty good living off of."

Only 2% of the marijuana businesses in the country are Black-owned, Tate said. Seventeen of the 34 recipients of marijuana retail licenses in Detroit are majority Black-owned, he noted.

Nuggets Dispensary is owned by Louis Radden, a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of back and spine conditions. Cannabis therapies have helped a lot of patients manage their chronic pain, Radden said. Nuggets Dispensary is a vertically integrated operation, from cultivation in Lansing to compliance testing and retail in Detroit, he said.

Louis Radden is the owner of Nuggets Dispensary, the city's first “legacy Detroit” Black-owned recreational marijuana dispensary as part of its social equity program.

Nuggets Dispensary also looks to employ Black Detroit residents and offer them opportunities to advance in the cannabis industry, Radden said.

"We find that our population is growing in terms of our cannabis consumption, from not just chronic pain, mental health, as well as people who just want to pregame before a night out on the town or if they want to just relax after a hard week at work," Radden said.

For some employees, Nuggets Dispensary is their first foray into the cannabis industry. Detroit native Darion Edwards used to work at an auto factory and had been looking to leave the auto industry. He just started working as a manager at Nuggets Dispensary.

"I was looking for something that could give me longevity. I was looking for a new industry," Edwards said. "It gives us something to actually be proud of. ... It gives us a sense of value, you know, especially someone from Detroit."