Detroit is on track to start licensing recreational marijuana businesses early next year. The city council unanimously approved new licensing rules Tuesday.
The sweeping ordinance includes what council member James Tate calls social equity priorities, “that focused on ensuring that Detroiters have not just an opportunity into the industry, but really identifying ways to make sure that they’re a success.”
The rules aim to remedy give priority to people disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition and enforcement. The ordinance calls for at least half of licenses to go to long-time Detroit residents.
People with marijuana convictions will also get priority.
"We want Detroiters to own and control the cannabis supply chain,” Mitzi Ruddock told the council during public comment on the ordinance. She says she’s a cannabis entrepreneur with a previous conviction.
“Crime is a relationship to poverty, and poverty is a direct relationship to ownership," she said. "We must be owners."
The city is expected to license up to 75 recreational marijuana retailers. The regulations also apply to other aspects of the supply chain – including businesses that grow, process, and transport marijuana. The ordinance takes effect in January.
Also Tuesday, the council rejected a proposal from Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration intended to give some relief to homeowners who were over-taxed.
An analysis by The Detroit News says Detroit homeowners were over-taxed by at least $600 million between 2010 and 2016. The resolution would have put $6 million into programs like discounts on land bank properties, and financial counseling.
Critics said the eligibility window was too narrow. And residents like Erin Stanley called the proposed remedy totally inadequate for families like hers, who lost their homes to foreclosure.
“My parents were overtaxed almost $7,000 by the ciy and when they couldn’t keep up, the county foreclosed on more than our house – but on our sense of belonging and home,” she told council members. "This is a trauma that my family and thousands and others in the city are still healing from: financially, spiritually, and emotionally. Compensation is a crucial step in that process, but also holding accountable to this abuse."
The city says it has corrected the assessments. Officials with the mayor's office have said there's no way the city can afford to refund residents who were overtaxed.