Detroit marijuana licensing program ‘likely unconstitutional,’ according to Judge
Licensing for Detroit recreational marijuana licenses for marijuana dispensaries is on hold after a federal judge in the United States District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan found that the city’s “legacy” program is likely unconstitutional. Detroit’s legacy program sets aside half of the 75 marijuana licenses for recreational sales for long-term Detroit residents. Judge Bernard Friedman found that the program gives an unfair, irrational, and likely unconstitutional advantage to Detroit residents.
Retail licensing was ordered to stop by Friedman back in April after the ordinance was challenged by Crystal Lowe, who did not qualify for the legacy program. Lowe, now 33, has lived in Detroit for 11 of the past 30 years in nearby River Rouge.
She also lived out of state with her then-husband who was actively serving in the military. Her mother was charged with a marijuana-related offense, but Lowe was over the age of 18 at the time. To qualify for the legacy program, the child of the accused must be a minor at the time of the crime.
The legacy program was part of a recreational marijuana ordinance passed by the Detroit City Council in November. While marijuana was legalized for recreational use in Michigan in November, 2018, Detroit’s council took their time to carefully create an ordinance that addresses the disproportionate impacts of the failing war on drugs and attempts to decrease disparities for marginalized communities. Unfortunately, this prevented the city of Detroit from collecting additional revenues from recreational marijuana sales for years.
In light of Judge Friedman’s decision, the city of Detroit will review the decision and come up with a revised plan that will address the concerns of the court. Detroit licensing will remain suspended. Kim Rustem, the director of Detroit’s Department of Civil Rights, hopes that there will remain legal assurance that Detroiters receive their fair share of the pot.