Detroit’s delayed recreational cannabis ordinance was finally approved by its city council. Black and Brown legacy residents can begin to meaningfully participate in the city’s billion-dollar cannabis industry.

Legislative Lead for Recreational Marijuana and Detroit City Council President Pro Tempore James Tate said that this ordinance will provide the best opportunity possible for equity applicants and Legacy Detroiters to compete for these licenses.

There are about 70 medical cannabis licenses in the city, only 10 of which are issued to Black and Brown business owners.

The Legacy Detroiter program applicants are now recognized as “equity applicants” under the revised ordinance for licensing adult-use cannabis in Detroit.

The state’s recognition of equity applicants allows Detroit to follow the state’s social equity program. Legacy Detroiters can now be placed on a separate track, so they are not competing with non-equity applicants.


For every 10 licenses issued to equity applicants, an equivalent number of licenses will be issued to non-equity applicants.

There are currently about 100 retail licenses available for recreational adult use in Detroit.

The state’s program is meant to promote and encourage participation in the marijuana industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement, according to the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency.

This is Detroit’s second attempt to pass the same ordinance. The first attempt was opposed by a lawsuit that argued that the ordinance gave an unfair and unlawful advantage to Detroit residents and select racial groups. The court agreed which halted the city council’s ability to pass the ordinance.

The council then decided to revise the ordinance, especially the provisions highlighted in the court’s decision.

Everyone is not happy, but no plan would make everyone happy. The most important takeaway is the fact there is an intentional strategy by the Detroit City Council to ensure that Black and Brown residents of Detroit participate in the economic prosperity of an industry that is slated to make billions in this country. The challenge to make this happen in Detroit in terms of equity is not new as this is a major problem around the country. Just like any DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) initiative, it must be handled with intentionality, or it will not happen.


Banks & Company, a Michigan-based Minority Business Enterprise, is not a traditional public relations firm. We offer a unique approach to public relations — we are a full-service public affairs firm with vast offerings including strategic public relations and marketing together, government relations, lobbying, and DEI (diversity, equity & inclusion) services. This unique approach has produced positive and measurable results for clients in several industries to include education, energy, health care, retail, death care, music, civic associations, and others.

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