Michigan: Detroiters, Advocates Pack Medical Marijuana Hearing

DetroitDispensary420DankLisaPriceFloydHardrick[SalwanGeorges-DetroitFreePress]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Concerned citizens and advocates packed a Monday hearing to debate proposed regulations of the city's medical marijuana industry.

The Detroit City Council is weighing a proposal that includes a licensing plan for the city's approximately 150 medical cannabis dispensaries, reports Joe Guillen at the Detroit Free Press. The proposal would also create zoning restrictions on how close the shops can operate to schools, churches and other dispensaries.

Patients at the hearing said they feel safe buying medicinal cannabis at dispensaries, which often have a security guard onsite. "There is a security guard there who is able to handle any situation that may come upon me," Pamillian McNary said. "When I go to (the drug store), I don't know what will happen to me."

Councilman James Tate introduced his proposal last month. In addition to establishing licensing and zoning requirements, it would ban drive-through dispensaries and prevent them from staying open around the clock. Shops couldn't be located within 1,000 feet of schools, religious institutions or public parks, or be within 2,000 feet of another dispensary.

The Detroit planning commission is scheduled to discuss the zoning restrictions at its Thursday meeting. Monday's public hearing dealt with the licensing portion of Tate's proposal.

Tate said he isn't trying to shut down all dispensaries. "This is not a witch hunt, as it was characterized," he said. "This is really a pathway for individuals who need medical marijuana to have that access -- safe access."

Councilman George Cushingberry Jr., over the weekend, said he wants to propose alternative rules for dispensaries. As the council's second-ranking member, he wants less-restrictive zoning, and to allow the shops to operate drive-through services. He also suggested city officials wait until the state Senate votes on bills to regulate the production and sale of medicinal cannabis.

"I agree we have to have some regulations," Cushingberrey said at the hearing. "It's just I don't want to put them all out of business."

The stores are getting a bad rap, according to Jamaine Dickens, a consultant working with the dispensary 420 Dank. He said the shops are providing legal medicine to people with illnesses.

Photo: Budtender Floyd Hardrick, 24, of Detroit, assists Lisa Price, 55, of Detroit at 420 Dank. Price suffers from degenerative disc disease and has a medical marijuana authorization. [Salwan Georges/Detroit Free Press]