DETROIT (WWJ) – Amid a crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in Detroit, an attorney with the Cannabis Council is singing their praises.

Nearly two dozen pot shops have been shuttered as police inspect the businesses under a new ordinance that keeps them away from designated drug-free zones including schools, parks and libraries.

Attorney Matt Abel — of the Cannabis Council, which represents several marijuana shops — helped to draft the ordinance. He has no problem with inspectors cracking down on dispensaries that violate the law; however:

“Part of our concern is how slowly the city is moving through the licensing process,” he said. “They began at March 1, and no caregiver center has yet been all the way through the process to obtain a license.”

Abel told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill that while some contend these sorts of businesses are a detriment to the city, he believes the opposite is true.

“A lot of these caregiver centers are really bringing up the standards in the community. I don’t think there’s any evidence that they create harm in a community,” Abel said. “And they’re creating jobs and reusing empty buildings and perhaps encouraging other stores to open in the area.”

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

Last month, Hollowell said 195 caregiver centers had applied for licensing; and, according to Abel, today there are still more than 180 in operation.

That’s good news, he says, for people who need a place to get their pot.

“The mayor seems to think that there are going to be no more than 60 or so medical marijuana shops,” Abel said. “And unless there’s something going on behind the scene where one of the city boards has instructions to limit it to that number, I don’t think it’ll be that limited.”

Hollowell told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas the city is focused on shutting down 66 pot shops that are illegally operating in designated drug-free zones, and about four to six lawsuits are filed by the city each week.

Abel recommends that those shops in violation of the new zoning laws relocate.

“In my view they weren’t smart to open there in the first place, and I don’t think they’re going to win any suits against the city,” he said.

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