Michigan has allowed medical marijuana for quite some time now, however, it was only in the last year that they moved to allow dispensaries. Of course, that never stopped anyone from opening up shop all around the state, but particularly in Detroit. Since new regulations have finally been put in place regarding the zoning requirements for dispensaries in Detroit, shops have been getting shut down left and right. Currently, over 130 dispensaries have been shut down for not having a license and being too close to a number of public places.
“(Detroit) has the most exclusionary zoning practices of anything I’ve ever seen in the state,” Robin Schneider, executive director of the National Patient Rights Association, told the Detroit News. “I think the fact that patients still do not have access to licensed facilities is a disservice to patients.”
The city of Detroit actually passed their zoning regulations back in 2015 – but they didn’t start accepting applications until the spring of 2016. Since then they have only managed to approve two dispensaries for a license – Green Cross and Green Genie – out of over 200 applications that were submitted. According to Simon Berro of Green Cross, it wasn’t an easy application process, but in the end it was worth the wait to be operating legally.
Before the new zoning requirements were put into place there were well over 200 medical cannabis dispensaries in the city of Detroit. Now, over 130 shops have been shut down and only two have been licensed to replace them and ensure patients have their medicine. There is concern among supporters of medical marijuana that there won’t be enough dispensaries to keep up with the needs of all the patients in the Detroit area – but at least one lawmaker is sure that there will be about 50 licensed dispensaries by the time they are done with approving licenses and that people likely won’t even notice the difference.
“There will be an appropriate number of locations that will be made available for people to sell the medicine,” Detroit Corporation Counsel Melvin Butch Hollowell said. “We just want to make sure that as they are opened, they are opening in an orderly fashion and meeting needs of patients required for treatment.”
For now, patients still have a number of shops to choose from when it comes time to buy their medicine – but soon the options will be significantly limited due to these excessive zoning restrictions. Hopefully things will start to pick up when it comes to approving legal dispensaries if they want to see patients continue to get their medicine when they need it – and this means focusing more on approving licenses and less on shutting down the shops within restricted areas.