Detroit clears final legal hurdle allowing recreational marijuana sales

Detroit scored another victory in the city's pursuit of recreational weed sales Wednesday after a judge denied a lawsuit to stop it from enforcing its legacy resident ordinance.

In a motion filed late Wednesday, U.S. Judge Bernard Friedman denied an effort for a preliminary injunction against the city of Detroit to begin administering licenses for dispensaries and other weed microbusinesses.

Herbalist on Warren and Greenfield was one of just 33 recipients of the first adult use marijuana retailers.

"We're gonna have more people, more product; it's gonna be great-. I'm excited," said J Villarreal, manager of The Herbalist 2.

Since it was legalized in Michigan, Detroit has worked to create a pot industry that is at least partly supported by longtime residents of the city. An ordinance overseen by Councilman James Tate sought to prioritize citizens who had lived in Detroit for a certain period of time when considering applications for difference licenses. 

"This industry allows for those who have typically and historically have been persecuted for this same plant, but now folks are making a lucrative lifestyle from it," said Councilman James Tate.

Along the way, the city has been forced to modify its original plan after multiple lawsuits arguing it was unconstitutional. While previous lawsuits had succeeded in that argument, Friedman saw no merit in the latest case, which included plaintiffs Arden Kassab, a resident of Pontiac, and two companies: Pharmco, Inc. and Alternative Gardens, LLC. 

The motion also granted the city to continue distributing licenses and said the plaintiffs will have until Jan. 20 if they want to file another action. 

RELATED: Detroit marijuana business licenses now up for grabs with application process open

The latest lawsuit was filed in September after the groups argue it would be harder for them to secure a license if the city was prioritizing legacy applicants - despite the ordinance being revised after it was struck down in 2021. 

In the updated version, the ordinance sets aside 50% of licenses for equity applicants. Those include people who have lived in the city for years and have been disproportionally impacted by laws pertaining to marijuana. 

The city will issue a total of 160 marijuana licenses in three phases. The next phase will be 120 days from today. 

"It seems like there are a lot of licenses out there? There are a lot of licenses, but every day the door swings open and we have to turn people away, 30 or 40 people a day I just want to use marijuana, And now we actually get to take them in and bring them into our home and show them how we can supply them," said Raymond Abro, the Chief Operating Officer at COO JARS Cannabis 6.

To see the first 33 recipients, click HERE.