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Federal ruling overshadows legal challenge to Detroit’s recreational marijuana law


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A federal judge in Detroit heard arguments Thursday in a legal battle that has halted the processing of applications for recreational marijuana businesses in the city. 

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman last month ordered Detroit to temporarily stop processing applications amid a lawsuit that argues a provision of a new ordinance regulating recreational pot operations gives unfair preference to longtime residents  deemed legacy Detroiters. 

Friedman granted the preliminary injunction in favor of Crystal Lowe, a resident and prospective marijuana business operator, who sued the city over the ordinance on claims the law is “discriminatory” and limits her chances. 

Lowe’s attorney Kevin Blair argued to the judge Thursday that the ordinance is a penalty for people, like Lowe, who temporarily moved out of the city and it does nothing to help “folks who have been disproportionally affected by the war on drugs.”

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“The city has stated they’re purposely restricting to allow ‘naïve and unsophisticated’ legacy applicants to get ahead,” Blair told Friedman. 

Emily Palacios, an Ann Arbor-based attorney representing the city, countered Blair has failed to demonstrate how the ordinance provisions violate Lowe’s equal protection rights under the Michigan Constitution. 

The ordinance, Palacios told the judge, only gives preference in the order in which applications are certified and it gives a boost to Detroiters who would be disadvantaged.

“The city’s licensing program is not causing residents and nonresidents to face-off in direct competition,” Palacios argued to Friedman. “The city has constructed a program by which there are two sets of licenses available; 50% of the licenses are going to go to Detroit legacy applicants and 50% to non-Detroit legacy applicants. Their opportunity to compete is equal on both sides of the ledger.”

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE: Federal ruling looms in legal challenge to Detroit’s recreational pot law

 RELATED REPORT:  Michigan’s recreational pot sales dampened by pandemic but projected to set records

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