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Detroiters vote to expand options for medical marijuana businesses

DETROIT — Detroit residents voted in favor of two ballot proposals that will ease zoning restrictions and other rules surrounding the city’s medical marijuana industry, unofficial election results show.

The first proposal would require the city to opt into a state law that recognizes licenses for growing, testing, processing, transporting and provision centers. It also would remove distance restrictions for dispensaries in proximity to day care centers, liquor stores, parks or arcades. The distance requirement for churches and other medical marijuana facilities would be reduced from 1,000 feet to 500 feet.

The second proposal would expand the zones for medical marijuana facilities to operate. It would eliminate the zoning board appeals application review with public comment and eliminate public nuisance regulations in the current ordinance.

Unofficial results with all precincts reporting show the measures passed.

The proposals would replace stringent medical marijuana zoning laws and rules that Detroit’s city council approved in 2016. Those rules shut down nearly 190 of the city’s almost 300 medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Citizens for Sensible Cannabis is a group of dispensary owners who organized the petition drive to put the new proposals on the ballot. The proposals offer a clean slate for the application process for marijuana dispensaries, said Jonathan Barlow, a spokesman for the group.

“Our biggest thing was the economic opportunity for the city,” Barlow said.

Several city council members and ministers opposed both proposals. Councilman James Tate, who supports the current stricter law, said it’s “very troubling” that a medical marijuana dispensary would be able to open near a day care center.

Detroit Corporation Counsel Melvin Butch Hollowell said the council won’t be able to make any amendments to the proposals for a year.