Here's what metro Detroiters think about the boom of marijuana dispensaries in our area

Dispensary debate
Posted at 5:27 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 18:22:58-04

(WXYZ) — It's a booming industry employing thousands of people in Michigan, but marijuana sales have also come with some scrutiny in our communities.

From Detroit to Utica to Mount Clemens and beyond, we’re hearing a variety of views about the spread of marijuana dispensaries in metro Detroit.

On the streets of Macomb County, where a growing number of billboards show ads for marijuana shops.

“I think it’s really a bad thing," said Jackie Rottmann. “I don’t think it’s really something we need on every corner.”

More than 4 years after recreational sale of marijuana began after a state ballot initiative passed by 56-percent, from Detroit to the suburbs, many businesses have become highly successful.

Joyce Dixon of Mount Clemens stopped to tell me why.

"I don’t have a problem with it," said Dixon.

She said it feels like more business helps the community.

Paul Gutleber lives right next door to a shop. The homeowner is also sharing his take.

“Noise. Fast cars. It’s like a drag strip every day," said Gutleber.

I spent several hours reaching out to various communities across metro Detroit to find out how businesses have impacted people in the area.

“People of Clinton Township spoke. Schools spoke. Seniors spoke," said Bob Cannon, Clinton Township supervisor.

Cannon told me his community banned dispensaries from opening and even took steps to limit the number of billboards.

"Residents of this community did not want and voted not to have any marijuana facility in the township so they can’t buy it here," he said.

In Detroit, councilwoman Mary Waters has a different opinion, highlighting benefits of new owners fixing up old buildings, hiring workers and contributing to the tax base.

"There are some communities that do not want marijuana businesses at all, some appreciate it and the only concern is whether or not they are close to schools or churches," said Waters.

Waters said ensuring locations are approved in a way that makes sense for the community continues to be a top priority.

And as for how many shops and billboards should be allowed.

"Michigan now has over 700 retail stores," said Matthew Abel, an advocate and attorney for the cannabis industry.

He said it should simply be decided by how many of them the economy can support. In Detroit, that number is more than 30 dispensaries.

"The city of Detroit received almost $2 million due to the 33 licenses and Wayne County received that share as well," said Abel.

Back in Macomb County, it's not just new shops popping up. The site of the former Gibraltar Trade Center now a large facility used to support operations of a cannabis company.

Rottmann acknowledges in Michigan the marijuana industry has brought 46,000 full time jobs.

But she’s still asking if all this has made the grass any greener.

“They’re everywhere. Billboards. Signs. Everything," she said.

We reached out to several shops who sell recreational and medical marijuana for an interview, but they have declined at this point.

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