Detroiters ease pot shop restrictions

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Two proposals that ease restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries in Detroit were approved by voters Tuesday, according to unofficial election results.

Proposal A, a medical marijuana facilities ordinance, had 60 percent of the support from voters to 39 percent rejecting it, with all precincts reporting.

Proposal B, a zoning ordinance, had 58 percent of the support from voters to 41 percent voting "no."

The proposals, which are voter-led initiatives, 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.

The proposals open the door for more dispensaries to be considered for operation in Detroit, said Melvin Butch Hollowell, the city’s corporation counsel.

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 hours 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.

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 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 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.

City Council will not be able to make any amendments to the proposals for one year, Hollowell said.

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