Detroit has just become the lastest city in Michigan to ban recreational marijuana, despite the upcoming legalization. In fact, the majority of Michigan is following this trend, with 79 percent of communities doing the same. With the legalization of recreational marijuana just around the corner, some believe this will have some serious consequences.
This news is shocking for many, as Michigan has just begun accepting applications for recreational marijuana licenses on Nov. 1. Detroit made the announcement just five days after the Marijuana Regulatory Agency started accepting applications. The MRA has already pre-approved 47 individuals for recreational marijuana licenses. Those who have been pre-approved in cities that have banned recreational marijuana will have to wait until the ban is lifted. However, the MRA will honor any licenses that were handed out before the ban was put in place.
“If we receive an application and there was no prohibitive ordinance in place, that application would be granted if all of the criteria are met,” says MRA spokesperson David Harns.
Why This is Happening
Many cities are doing this to create regulations before the drug becomes legal to all adults over the age of 21. A few cities, Detroit included, are planning on keeping the ban in place until the end of January 2020, one month after statewide legalization. Until then, officials will be evaluating policies and procedures to make sure they are ready for legalization. The rest of the state will follow a “wait-and-see” approach and visit the issue later.
There are still a handful of cities in Michigan that will allow the cultivation and distribution of recreational marijuana. It appears that Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and Ferndale will be the most popular areas for recreational marijuana next year.
On May 7 of this year, Royal Oaks Township was the first township to propose a ban on recreational marijuana. It failed to pass but initiated the conversation. Many in the area believe allowing recreational marijuana on the streets will only increase violence and the war on drugs. Detroit itself is one of the most dangerous cities in the country, with the crime rate being 139 percent higher than the national average.
One of the biggest losses these cities are taking comes from the inability to collect the millions of dollars in taxes. According to the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency, the state is projected to generate $180.5 million in taxes in the first year alone. Experts predict that the number will grow to $287.9 million in the next couple of years. Local governments are going to lose this opportunity by preventing these dispensaries from operating in their cities.
Another risk associated with this sparsity is the possibility of an unregulated market growing. California is currently facing the same problem. States aren’t prepared to handle large demands if only certain areas are selling marijuana. Interested buyers will start to look elsewhere if it isn’t easily accessible.
Although Michiganders voted in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana last November, officials clearly believe their communities aren’t ready for the drug yet. Residents who want to change this ban can start a petition and hope it appears on the next ballot.