Court process delays Detroit adult-use licenses until at least mid-2022

Ken Lund / Flickr

The Theodore Levin Federal Courthouse in Detroit.

Litigants fighting over the constitutionality of Detroit’s “legacy” adult-use cannabis license plan filed documents in federal court last Thursday that suggest nobody will get a Detroit adult-use license until late Spring 2022 at the earliest. The City of Detroit filed a motion at the last moment Thursday calling for a full trial to determine the legality of a city license system requiring at least half of all licenses to go to people who have been residents of Detroit for at least 15 years. Crystal Lowe, a one-time Detroit resident who now lives in neighboring River Rouge, is suing the city for the right to obtain a cannabis license regardless of the city’s limits.

Struck down by a judge in the Eastern Michigan Federal District Court in June, the Detroit ordinance creating adult-use cannabis licenses contains a poison pill clause making the entire law null and void if a court strikes down any part. The ordinance’s chief author, Councilman James Tate, reiterated the city’s determination to invalidate the law if a court interferes during proceedings to determine if an injunction should be filed.

The case, Crystal Lowe v. The City of Detroit, is now entering the discovery phase for a hearing on whether or not the temporary injunction blocking the Detroit law should become permanent. According to a discovery plan filed by the plaintiff and defense attorneys, the discovery phase should be completed by March 1, 2022 and the two parties will enter into and complete alternative dispute resolution, using a private mediator to resolve the case rather than a court hearing, by April 1, 2022. 

If the mediation is not successful, then Judge Bernard Friedman would accept written briefs and likely an oral hearing, a process that could add even more months to the legal process, delaying the possibility of adult-use cannabis licenses in Detroit until early summer.

Contacted for comment multiple times for comment, both Mayor Mike Duggan’s office and Councilman Tate did not respond to requests.Detroit politics was also roiled last week when Councilman André Spivey was indicted on federal bribery charges. Earlier this year another Detroit Councilman, Gabe Leland, pled down to lesser charges after first receiving a bribery indictment. With just nine council members, almost a quarter of Detroit’s City Council has been charged with bribery this year.