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Warren City Council votes against allowing 28 marijuana licenses

Posted at 4:15 AM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 05:34:48-05

WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) — No marijuana dispensaries will be setting up shop in Warren after city council voted 5-2 against a settlement that would have granted 28 marijuana licenses in the city.

The settlement also would have dismissed lawsuits by dozens of businesses that claim the previous council violated the Open Meetings Act last year during the application process.

Feelings on this are mixed, depending on who you ask. Marijuana advocates say this was a chance to bring in money to the city and avoid costly litigation.

However, two council members we've heard from directly say 28 licenses is too many.

During the virtual meeting, community members weighed in with mixed feelings.

"I like that it does include a community benefit where some money would come back to the city," one person said.

"It is wrong and the administration has brought you a very flawed settlement and I urge you to reject it," another commented.

That settlement – which would have paved the way for 28 medical and recreational dispensaries, was in response to lawsuits brought by applicants in 2019 when the previous council awarded 15 licenses after getting more than 60 applications.

A Macomb County Circuit Court judge later ruled the process was not fully transparent and the council violated the Open Meetings Act.

Prior to the vote, an attorney for one of the businesses suing told us agreeing to this settlement would have been a financial win.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, who's spoken out against dispensaries in the city, wasn't pleased with last night's outcome either.

"I've never been comfortable with the way the council handled this volatile issue. Whether it be the old or the new council," he said. "But it did not go the way I would have preferred it so, I'm encouraging them to all work together to avoid costly and cumbersome litigation."

The city could still be facing lawsuits, and one council member tells us it could also be sent back to the court for further negotiation.