Detroiters face ballot issues easing pot shop limits
Detroit— Two proposals on Detroit’s Tuesday ballot give voters a chance to ease the restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries, including allowing them to operate near day cares and liquor stores.
The proposals, which are voter-led initiatives, would replace Detroit’s current medical marijuana ordinance that City Council approved in March 2016 that has led to the closing of 167 of the city’s then 283 medical marijuana facilities.
If the proposals pass, they open the door for more dispensaries to be considered for operation in Detroit, said Melvin Butch Hollowell, the city’s corporation counsel.
“It’s democracy,” Hollowell said. “The voters are in charge and that’s how it should be. They get to make the decisions.”
There are currently 10 medical marijuana dispensaries that have been licensed by the city, Hollowell said. Another 96 facilities are under review.
Citizens for Sensible Cannabis Reform collected enough signatures to get the initiatives on the ballot. Group spokesman Jonathan Barlow said the proposals would offer a clean slate for the application process for marijuana dispensaries.
“Our biggest thing was the economic opportunity for the city,” Barlow said.
Some city council members have opposed the ballot initiatives, including Councilman James Tate who represents District 1.
Tate, who spearheaded the current law, called it “very troubling” that a medical marijuana dispensary would be able to open near a day care center.
“The ballot initiative will potentially peel back many of the protections we put in place,” he said,
Proposal A requires Detroit to opt into the state law that recognizes five licenses: growing, testing, processing, transporting and provision centers.
It eliminates all distance requirements for dispensaries near parks, day cares, liquor stores and arcades. The distance requirement for churches and other medical marijuana facilities is reduced from 1,000 feet to 500 feet.
Proposal A also expands by two hour the potential time of operation for medical marijuana facilities from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. to 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and is silent on current laws that prohibit excessive LED lighting on signs.
Proposal B essentially expands the zones for medical marijuana facilities to operate; eliminates the zoning board appeals application review with public comment; and eliminates public nuisance regulations in the current ordinance.
If voters approve the proposals, City Council will not be able to make any amendments to them for one year, Hollowell said.
Staff writer Christine Ferretti contributed.