In 2008, Michigan voters passed a referendum legalizing the medical use of marijuana.
In 2012, Detroit voters decriminalized the personal possession of less than an ounce of marijuana on their own property.
Thus, the number of "medical" marijuana dispensaries in Motown has ballooned recently.
Why the scare quotes?
Consider the names of some of the emporia your host passes on a regular basis.
Some are unobjectionable in that they attempt to convey some genuine medical connection: "The THC Healing Center," "The Healing Tree," "Herbal Remedies." OK--you can still be dubious about the law, and even the dispensary in question, but at least there's an effort to connect it to the 2008 law.
But the most recent ones seem to be tilting toward Law No. 2: "The Reef," "Puff Detroit," "King of Budz," "420 Dank" and, most recently "Dank Godz."
I'm missing the "medical" angle, gents. Unless your treating physician is Tommy Chong and you're suffering from the dread Lackaganja virus.
Fortunately, the City of Detroit seems to be a wee bit skeptical, too, and is doing something to rein in these joints:
About 150 medical marijuana shops are operating in Detroit. Until now, city officials had no way to track the shops or control who operated them, stoking concerns among many residents about the potential for violence and other nefarious activity near the shops.
“We’re dealing with squatting, people buying other drugs standing on the corner,” said Norma Foster, who lives near East 8 Mile Road and Kelly Road. "This medical marijuana is just putting more strain on us.”
Under the rules City Council approved by a vote of 6-1, the shops will have to get a city license or be shut down. Operators of the shops would be subject to a police background check, and drive-through service would be prohibited. The ordinance also sets an inspection process and prohibits shops from staying open 24 hours a day.
Councilman James Tate said it's the city's responsibility to address residents' concerns about the marijuana dispensaries. He said the licensing rules allow people to receive their medicine.
“Right now, there’s no ordinance to allow for these places to exist,” Tate said. "That compassion is there ... because it allows these facilities to exist.”