Recreational Cannabis Licenses Are a Go in Detroit

A federal judge denied a request that would have barred the licensing process in the city. This clears a path for Detroit to start issuing recreational licenses to businesses.
Stock photograph by Aphiwat Chuangchoem via

Four years after Michigan voters approved recreational marijuana use, the city of Detroit has been given the green light to begin approving licenses for marijuana dispensaries and other cannabis-related businesses.

According to a report from the Detroit Free Press, the news comes after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman denied a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in a lawsuit against a city ordinance that requires half of all limited licenses go to equity applicants — people who live in areas of the city that have been “disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement.”

The same report from the Free Press explains that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which includes two cannabis companies and a prospective marijuana business owner, claimed they would likely be denied a license because the ordinance “favors longtime Detroiters.”

Had it not been denied, the lawsuit, which was filed in September, would have prevented licensing in the city.

This is not the first time that the ordinance has been challenged in court. According to the Free Press, the first version of the ordinance was found to be “likely unconstitutional” back in June of 2021. The revised version of the ordinance was presented in February of 2022. It received two lawsuits that were dismissed in August, in addition to the one filed in September.

“I am thankful for Judge Friedman’s wisdom in ruling today against the Temporary Restraining Order that would have again prevented Detroit from moving forward with our current Adult-Use Marijuana Ordinance,” Detroit City Council President Pro-Tem James Tate said in a press release.

“Three months ago, a Wayne County Circuit Court judge declared our ordinance ‘unambiguous’ and ‘a fair licensing process.’ Despite clear rulings issued by the courts, various plaintiffs continue their frivolous attempts to dominate the adult-use cannabis industry in the city in an effort to leave Detroiters and other Social Equity applicants out of the market. Hopefully today’s rejection resonates.”

Since the announcement on Dec. 21, and as of the afternoon of Dec. 22, the city of Detroit’s Office of Marijuana Ventures and Entrepreneurship have approved 33 applicants for adult-use marijuana retail licenses, according to the city of Detroit’s website. Of those, 20 are equity applicants.

The city’s goal is to award 100 retailer licenses, 30 microbusiness licenses and 30 consumption lounge licenses over three phases. The second phase will begin as soon as 120 days after this first round.

If all goes as intended, an equal number of these licenses will go to general and equity retailer licenses.

For more information, including a list of retailers that have met the criteria to be awarded a license, visit the city of Detroit’s website at