(Natural News) With an extensive history of traditional uses as an industrial material and natural medicine, marijuana-based remedies have been used for centuries. Nonetheless, this incredible plant has been the topic of many heated debates between cannabis advocates and people who rather not see this medicinal plant showing up in their neighborhood.
Even though medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, due to a regulatory shift in 2016, nearly 300 of the Motor City's pot shops were found to be operating illegally. Non-compliant marijuana dispensaries in Detroit all received a letter shortly after the implementation of the strict government regulations, noting that if they were not fully licensed they would face the risk of being shut down.
From that moment on, 167 medical marijuana dispensaries have been shut down in Detroit. This number is expected to grow with 51 more shops facing closure, Off The Grid News reported. This will bring the city officials closer to their promise to clean house. Their aim is to limit Detroit's number of medical marijuana dispensaries to 50.
According to the new set of rules, marijuana dispensaries should be located at least 1,000 feet away from schools, parks, libraries, daycare centers, churches, liquor stores, and other dispensaries. To get a license, retailers must get a zoning permission prior to opening a business. At present, there are only five businesses licensed and operating legally within the city, noted Detroit Corporation Counsel Melvin Butch Hollowell.
Detroit cracking down hard on medical marijuana use
Recovering from recent bankruptcy, Detroit currently has a team of seven attorneys working on nothing but marijuana cases, noted Hollowell. One of their main goals is shutting down as many dispensaries as possible.
"We started out focusing in on the facilities that are in drug-free zones and then to the areas where there are these clusters," Hollowell said. "We've been successful in the closure rate, but there's more to do."
With a population of 680,250 citizens, of which a quarter of a million are registered to use cannabis medicinally, Michigan is currently one of the states that might make its way to full cannabis legalization in 2018. Nonetheless, the city will continue to focus on its current goals of enforcing the ordinance and closing more pot shops which fail to get a license.
"The voters of the state made medical marijuana legal, so we have to manage that in a way that is consistent with keeping our neighborhoods respected and at the same time, allowing for those dispensaries to operate in their specific areas that we've identified as being lawful," Hollowell told The Free Press.
There are currently around 70 dispensaries operating with provisional approval in the city, which means another 20 of them will be denied a license to meet Detroit's goal to limit the number of pot shops to 50 locations. Though this is good news for community groups in Detroit that have been trying to keep cannabis out of their neighborhoods, others aren't too pleased by the decision.
According to the chairman of the Metropolitan Detroit Community Action Coalition, Winfred Blackmon, the issue is not medical marijuana itself but the fact that so many businesses keep popping up in neighborhoods where they are not allowed to operate.