DETROIT (WWJ) – Having previously gone after so-called nuisance cases, now the city of Detroit is filing suit to shut down dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries operating in drug free zones.

These latest lawsuits, filed Monday, come after at least 22 pot shops were shuttered as a result of new licensing and zoning regulations that took effect in the city in March.

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Detroit Corporate Counsel Melvin “Butch” Hollowell said — while some of those 22 voluntarily closed and some moved to new locations — the majority of the 66 medical marijuana facilities now targeted for closure did not even bother to apply for an operating license. 

Hollowell is confident that the city will prevail in these cases.

“There’s no way out; there’s no way out if you’re in a drug-free zone,” Hollowell told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Jon Hewett. “That is a nonwaivable characteristic by both federal and state law you cannot operate within a thousand radial feet of a school a church a park or a library.”

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Hollowell said, on top of that constraint, medical marijuana facilities are only allowed to operate in certain zones in the city: M-1 through M-4, which are designate heavy industrial or B-2 through B-4, which are heavy commercial.

“Essentially it’s taking it out of the neighborhoods,” Hollowell said.

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

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Hollowell believes, in the end, there will be room for only about 50 properly licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of Detroit.