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

Another milestone in Detroit's path toward opening the city up to recreational marijuana commerce is here with the process for applying for a business license in the city opening Thursday morning.

A total of 60 business licenses including 40 for retail businesses and dispensaries will be approved during the first phase of applications. 

Detroit's recreational marijuana ordinance was approved in April. However, delays in opening the application process happened after companies that own two medical marijuana dispensaries in the city sued for being excluded from the application process.

A judge motioned for removing the injunction blocking the application process from opening on Tuesday. 

"The medical marijuana operation in the city has overwhelmingly been controlled by wealthy folks who don't live in the city of Detroit," said Mayor Mike Duggan. "Detroiters have not benefitted from the marijuana business and Councilman Tate from the beginning said we want to have retail sales of recreational marijuana in the city, but not if it means Detroiters are going to be excluded." 

Councilman Joe Tate has overseen the creation of Detroit's equity-based approach for giving out licenses that gives preferential treatment to legacy residents interested in running a business in the city. 

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Despite the state approving recreational marijuana consumption and sales in 2018, Detroit has declined to allow companies to setup shop without first giving residents a chance at a cut of the pie. 

It's not a shrinking pie either. The state estimates the $3 billion in revenue will come from pot sales by 2024 - one of the largest totals in the country.

A total of 160 licenses will be approved over three phases. Sixty licenses will be approved during the first phase, which goes until Oct. 1. It will include:

  • 40 Retail: Allows a business to sell marijuana and related products from licensed growers and processors to adult consumers for recreational purposes
  • 10 Micro-Business: Allows a small business to vertically integrate by growing and processing up to 150 plants and selling the resulting products to adult consumers for recreational purposes
  • 10 Consumption Lounge: Allows a commercial location to host adults to consume marijuana products

Each category will include equal numbers of licenses for social equity candidates and general business candidates. 

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To qualify as a social equity applicant under the law, an applicant must be a qualified resident of Detroit or another community determined to be disproportionately impacted by the historical prohibition on marijuana. A business that is at least 51% owned by such a person can also qualify as a social equity applicant.

Find the application process here