Detroit Passes New Medical Dispensary Zoning Restrictions

The Detroit City Council has passed new zoning ordinances that will regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. The ordinances, which come after hours of discussion among council members and comments from local citizens, could lead to the closure of half of Detroit’s dispensaries.

The zoning regulations, which were first written by City Councilman James Tate, specify that dispensaries must be:

  • 1,000 feet from a Drug Free Zone — these are defined as arcades, child care centers, educational institutions, libraries, outdoor recreation facilities, schools, youth activity centers and public housing;
  • 1,000 feet from another medical marijuana caregiver center;
  • 1,000 feet from a ‘Controlled Use’;
  • 1,000 feet from a city park;
  • and 1,000 feet from a religious institution defined as exempt by the city assessor.

The City Council had been debating an ordinance that would have allowed up to a 20% variance in the 1,000 ft. restriction: dispensaries that were no closer than 800 feet could have applied for approval, but the Council finally rejected this idea.

Instead, the Council opted to allow dispensaries to apply for approval on a case-by-case basis for a variance of up to 100%: dispensaries that are located right next to zones defined as off-limits by the ordinance can still get approval from the appeals board.

Detroit has more than 150 dispensaries currently. Matthew Abel, an attorney with the Cannabis Counsel, said that more than half of those dispensaries may be forced to close.

Photo Credit: Bryan Debus

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