DETROIT (WWJ) – Nearly two dozen medical marijuana dispensaries in Detroit have been shut down since new licensing and zoning regulations took effect in March.

Of the 22 shuttered so far, city attorney Melvin “Butch” Hollowell says some voluntarily closed, some moved to new locations, and others closed after lawsuits were filed.

Hollowell told WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas that the new ordinances are expected to drastically limit the number of dispensaries that can operate within the city — even as interest in the business grows.

Last year it was estimated there were 180 medical marijuana in Detroit; in February there was said to be 211; and last month, Hollowell said 195 caregiver centers had applied for licensing.

The city is currently focused on shutting down 66 pot shops that are illegally operating in designated drug-free zones, according to Hollowell, and about four to six lawsuits are filed by the city each week.

How are residents reacting to this effort by the city? Benson said he’s been getting a lot of supportive calls.

“Actually, this is business,” said City Councilman Scott Benson. “So if you open up a business that you don’t know you’re on sure footing, that’s really on you. And so I haven’t received threats or anything of that nature, but I have received support from my community and my constituents that we are starting to close down the ones that are not legal.”

The new ordinance requires store operators to get a special business license designed for medical marijuana stores. They also prohibit shops from operating within 1,000 feet of places including churches, schools and parks — though stores can apply for a variance.

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