With an area of barely four and a half square miles, Ypsilanti is a prime example of packing a lot into not a lot of space, and when it comes to the cannabis industry—ever on the rise since the legalization of medical and recreational drug use in 2018—the city is no stranger.
Host to nearly a dozen dispensaries in its municipality, Ypsilanti officials have made efforts in the last several years to welcome new businesses while handling rising complaints of oversaturation.
When the city first gave out permits for marijuana businesses, it was on a limited and competitive basis. This made the process cutthroat for developers looking to move to Ypsilanti. But that competition didn’t last for long.
“There was a concern from the council, some citizens, and also the planning commission about the number of licenses that were being issued,” said City Manager Frances McMullan. “We’re not granting any [more] licenses. We’ve put a pause, a moratorium, in place.”
The most recent licenses were doled out before the moratorium was due for renewal in the new year. Several dispensaries in development did not receive a renewal for their business permit.
Their applications were denied due to their inability to meet all required guidelines in chapter seven of the Ypsilanti city ordinances. Outlining timeline restrictions and other requirements, chapter seven serves as the City’s framework for cannabis businesses coming to Ypsilanti.
Although the city manager did not grant their permit renewal, an appeal process is in place to give businesses another chance to renew their permits. The appeal hearings were held at the Ypsilanti City Council meeting on Feb. 28 and all five appeals were granted.
The appeals process served as an opportunity for growth for city officials. “It kind of just opened our eyes to some deficiencies in the ordinance that we can work on so this doesn’t happen again,” McMullan said.
She wants to learn from this moment and refine the city’s marijuana permit laws to support developers and residents of Ypsilanti.
Members of the Ypsilanti community play a major role in the development of the city. All new changes to city ordinances are proposed at public hearings with the opportunity for residents to speak their minds.
“The marijuana industry and the processes are constantly developing. I want to make this more of a team effort with us and the business," McMullan said. "We’re all trying to make this work for our community, and it doesn’t work the same for every community.”
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