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180 Marijuana Dispensaries Pop Up In Detroit: 'This Is The Next Big Thing In The City'

DETROIT (WWJ) - One of the fastest growing businesses in the Motor City has many residents raising concerns: Medical marijuana dispensaries.

"This is the next big thing in the city of Detroit," said Councilman James Tate. "It's quiet for folks who are not really paying attention, but everyday it seems like another business is opening up."

Tate told WWJ's Charlie Langton the number of medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits is "staggering."

"The estimate is 180 medical marijuana dispensaries within the city of Detroit," he said. "I've counted 13 in District One myself. We see some locations, certainly along 8 Mile and other border streets, where you have four, five, six kind of clustered together."

Even though state law allows registered patients to use marijuana for medical purposes, dispensaries have gone largely unregulated.

"I'm for compassionate care but am also concerned about the over saturation of them," Tate said. "These buildings, they have now just started popping up everywhere and because the state law is not clear on if they're allowed or not, we take these businesses to court and they just get tied up and they just stay there. We have not won not one case, nothing has been shut down and that's the reason why. Most of these businesses don't have a permit, they have no licensing."

Aside from legal issues, Tate said he's also concerned about community members who live near the dispensaries.

"We've got a lot of complaints about it but some of that is emotional because they just don't like the issue. The other part of it is people are not educated on it," he said. "It's not about being against it. It's about making sure that we're able to regulate it in a way that ensures the best quality of life for the residents who live in that area."

Tate said their hands are basically tied until lawmakers in Lansing can refine the medical marijuana law and include measures about dispensaries.

"We're trying to get state law clarified to allow us to provide the tools necessary for our law enforcement to go in and regulate those businesses," he said. "But it's a lot bigger than just Detroit and we're going to need some support from around the state."

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