DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit’s top attorney says none of the medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the city have the proper licensing — which means all of them are operating illegally.
Detroit corporation counsel Melvin Butch Hollowell says the city is going after medical pot shops that are currently up and running.
“Everyone that is operating now is operating at their own risk and unlawfully,” he told WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas on Wednesday. “You cannot be lawful — and I want to make this very clear — you cannot be lawful until you have received all of your city approvals…and we’re not there yet in that process.”
Hollowell said the city is “in the midst” of the process of approving special business licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries under an ordinance that took effect on March 1 of this year.
He said 195 businesses have applied, and each must meet the requirements and timetable to apply for a license or be subject to closure.
What’s puzzling, Hollowell said, is that about two-thirds of them are located outside of Detroit.
“A very large number of the applications from those outside the city are from one specific address in Howell, Michigan,” Hollowell said. “It lists itself as a property management company. We think maybe it’s something more, so we’ll be examining what’s really going on as it related to that particular address.”
In addition to requiring a city-issued license, new laws also prohibit medical marijuana shops from operating within 1,000 feet of places including churches, schools and parks in Detroit — although businesses can apply for a variance.
Hollowell has said violations will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
The city has already filed lawsuits against 10 dispensaries that are operating in designated pot-free zones.