Pubdate: Sat, 25 Jun 2011
Source: Ann Arbor News (MI)
Copyright: 2011 The Ann Arbor News
Author: Ryan J. Stanton, Political Reporter


Slouched in a blue folding chair in front of Ann Arbor's city hall,
James Brinker has all he needs for the moment: a copy of High Times
magazine, a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, a 16-ounce bottle of Mountain
Dew and an Android cell phone loaded with rock tunes.

An associate of a proposed medical marijuana dispensary on Packard
Road, Brinker has been camped out in front of city hall since Monday
night -- ever since the Ann Arbor City Council passed a new medical
marijuana licensing ordinance.

The 35-year-old Ann Arbor resident is hoping to be the first in line
to get one of a limited number of dispensary licenses once the city
begins taking applications -- but city officials say that's a long way
out and no promises are being made that Brinker's efforts will pay

Unfazed, Brinker has slept the last five nights curled up with a
blanket in his chair, using an umbrella to shield him from the
elements on what has turned out to be a rainy week.

"It sucks being out here," he admitted on Friday afternoon. "But I'll
sit out here as long as I have to -- this is my livelihood I'm talking

He said he's been passing the time by reading and listening to
Metallica, Slayer, Pantera, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Kid Rock.

Brinker is working for Bronx native Rhory Gould, who plans to open a
medical marijuana dispensary called Arborside Health and Wellness at
3150 Packard Road. The city hasn't begun the process of accepting
applications yet, but Gould is determined to be first in line --
especially since he's vying for no more than two licenses being made
available by the city.

City officials, however, say they have no intention of making people
camp out to get a dispensary license, and a formal application process
hasn't been decided on yet. "There is no procedure in place," said
Kristen Larcom, senior assistant city attorney. "At this point, there
is no legal basis for setting a policy. In effect, there is no
ordinance. "So in terms of any procedure as to how applications are
going to be accepted, there is nothing in place."

Larcom noted the licensing ordinance passed by the City Council this
week won't take effect for 60 days. The details of when and how the
city will accept applications haven't been worked out.

"If there is any kind of procedure for applying, the information would
have to be disseminated in a fair way so that everybody has access to
it," Larcom said.

That message was conveyed to representatives of the Arborside
dispensary on Friday, but that hasn't changed their plans. Brinker is
still planning to hold down the fort.

Gould and Brinker both said it was their understanding from a
conversation with Police Chief Barnett Jones on Thursday that
Arborside would be given a number acknowledging they were first in
line, so Brinker wouldn't have to camp out any longer.

"And then when we went and talked to him today, the story changed,"
Brinker said on Friday afternoon. "I don't think it's his fault,
though. I think it's the city hall's fault. I think the chief of
police is doing what he can. I think it's out of his hands."

Jones acknowledged he talked to Brinker on Thursday after receiving
reports of a suspicious man sitting in front of the building and he
may have left him with false hope.

The city has had a moratorium prohibiting new dispensaries from
opening in Ann Arbor since last August, but city officials estimate
there still are about 15 to 18 operating. The council took action
Monday night to extend the moratorium through the end of October.

Under the licensing ordinance, dispensaries that were open prior to
the moratorium have up to 60 days after the ordinance takes effect to
submit an application for a license. No other applications are going
to be accepted until 75 days after the ordinance takes effect.

The licensing ordinance caps the licenses to be issued at a number 10
percent higher than the licenses applied for in the first 60 days, but
not more than 20. So, if there really are 15 to 18 dispensaries
already operating in Ann Arbor, and all of them seek licenses, no more
than two additional licenses would be available to new dispensaries
like Arborside.

Asked what's in it for him, Brinker said he wants to continue his
family's legacy and be a part of a successful business. His mother,
Linda Brinker, recently closed her retail store, the Occasionally Gift
Shop, located at the corner of Liberty and Main streets downtown.

"This is kind of my way of having a business that I hope will
succeed," said Brinker, a state-registered medical marijuana patient.
"I love growing pot, and I'm good at it, so I like to do what I'm good
at -- I'm fighting for what I'm good at, I guess."

Brinker said the folks at Arborside have been good to him, making sure
he has food and drinks delivered, and giving him breaks to use the
restroom once in a while.

Asked whether he's getting paid for his efforts, Brinker replied
simply: "I get compensated, let's put it that way. I'm not just out
here for nothing." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.