The Detroit City Council approved an ordinance on Tuesday that will permit recreational marijuana retailers and other adult-use cannabis businesses to operate in the city. The ordinance, which includes provisions to ensure that at least half of recreational pot businesses are owned by city residents, was introduced last month by Councilmember James Tate.

On Tuesday, Tate said that the ordinance is the product of two years of work “to identify ways to make sure there’s success” for residents of the city. Currently, only four of Detroit’s 46 medical marijuana retailers are owned by people who live in the city.

“We’ve seen around the country where individuals who live in the municipality where the industry is located are frozen out and not having an opportunity to participate,” Tate said.

Legacy Applicants To Get Priority

Although regulated sales of marijuana to adults began in some Michigan municipalities last year, city leaders in Detroit were determined to craft legislation that supports ownership of cannabis businesses by longtime city residents. Under the approved measure, at least 50% of licenses will be awarded to applicants with “Detroit legacy” status. Detroit legacy applicants are those who have lived in the city at least 15 of the past 30 years, or 13 years if the applicant is low-income. Those with a marijuana conviction who have lived in Detroit for 10 of the last 30 years also qualify.

“We have taken lessons learned from other cities around the state and country that opened up the adult-use market and applied elements that we believe will help provide opportunity for those seeking to enter and succeed in the cannabis industry,” Tate said in a statement. “We have taken major steps to address the inequities found in the city’s current medical marijuana industry and included provisions that provide genuine opportunity for Detroiters to create generational wealth.”

Detroit legacy applicants will receive priority in submitting applications, will be charged only 1% of mandated license fees, and will be eligible to purchase some city-owned properties to locate their businesses for only 25% of fair market value.

Mitzi Ruddock, a Detroit single mother with a past marijuana conviction, is the head of Black Cannabis Access, which she said helps urban communities “break the cycle of wealth and economic disparities.” She told the council that “cannabis has saved my life” both economically and in relation to her mental health.

“I and many other Detroiters have sacrificed so much to see the day that brings generational wealth to our children through legal cannabis businesses,” said Ruddock.

“This isn’t a game nor has it ever been a side hustle for us,” Ruddock added. “Detroiter-owned companies will hire Detroit employees, which will support Detroit families and rebuild Detroit communities and contribute to Detroit income tax base.”

First Michigan City To Approve Cannabis Consumption Lounges

In addition to allowing up to 75 recreational marijuana retailers, the approved ordinance will allow licenses for up to 35 cannabis consumption lounges, making Detroit the first city in Michigan to allow such establishments. The measure also permits licenses to be issued for other cannabis businesses including cultivators, processors, safety compliance facilities, temporary events, microbusinesses, and secure transporters.

After making amendments to Tate’s proposal including requiring cannabis businesses that locate in the city to pay employees at least $15 per hour, the City Council approved the measure with a unanimous vote. City officials will begin accepting applications from legacy applicants in January.

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