Pubdate: Wed, 02 Mar 2016
Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Column: Higher Ground
Copyright: 2016 C.E.G.W./Times-Shamrock
Author: Larry Gabriel


The Elite Detroit medical marijuana provisioning center is located in 
a former car dealership on Woodward not far north of Seven Mile Road. 
There is a tall cyclone fence surrounding the entire facility, 
including a spacious parking lot. Customers can only enter and exit 
the lot from Woodward; there's no way to go directly into the 
neighborhood from there.

The self-contained little compound would seem to be the perfect place 
for the security conscious set.

A littler farther south, on the other side of Seven Mile, the Miles 
Green Acres provisioning center sits in a former ice cream shop. 
Fortuitously, it's next door to the Dutch Girl Donuts store. There's 
some convenience there: Stock up on weed and stock up on doughnuts.

The folks over at Dutch Girl, which has been on its corner for my 
entire life (and the only place I have ever found the powdered lemon 
stick), seem unperturbed by the new neighbors. "They don't bother us; 
we don't bother them," says one Dutch Girl worker.

About a half-mile farther south is the Tribute Detroit provisioning 
center, where the fenced parking lot on the side makes for secure and 
easy entrance to the building. Just like all of the places discussed 
here, you have to get buzzed into the door and there is a security 
guard near the entrance.

All of these would seem to be good business locations, along Woodward 
between McNichols and Eight Mile, to catch the traffic traveling 
north on our most famous avenue. But each of these stores could soon 
close if Detroit's restrictive Medical Marihuana Caregiver Centers 
ordinance is enacted as it's written and scheduled to be rolled out.

Tribute Detroit and Miles Green Acres would be affected because they 
are across the street from Palmer Park. According to the new law, no 
centers can be within 1,000 feet of an outdoor recreation facility.

Elite Detroit is right next door to a church. The new law says 
caregiver centers have to be at least 1,000 feet from a church. The 
folks over at Elite didn't want to talk about it when I asked, and 
nobody answered the phone at the Original New Grace Missionary 
Baptist Church next door when I called.

The application process for caregiver centers was scheduled to start. 
All of the estimated 211 facilities in the city have until March 31 
to apply for a license. The expectation is that there will be a 
dramatic reduction in the number of medical marijuana storefronts. 
Mayor Mike Duggan uttered the war cry at his State of the City 
address last week: "... we're finally going to start shutting down 
marijuana dispensaries in the city of Detroit."

"What's going to happen is 95 percent of the people who log on to the 
city map will find that their property is not in compliance," says 
Richard Clement, an aide to Councilman George Cushingberry Jr. "It's 
going to be a discouragement to a lot of people. It's going to reduce 
the number to less than 50. People like [those] on Woodward who put 
over $100,000 into their places as an investment. This is all going 
to be lost."

There are more than 200 dispensaries in Detroit, says attorney Matt 
Abel, of Detroit's Cannabis Counsel legal office.

"Some 60 of them are close to schools, others are near libraries, day 
care centers, and parks. I would guess that roughly half of the 
places that are open now are not going to pass the initial zoning 
screening and that their applications won't even be considered," Abel 
says. "The first thing they look at is that they are in the proper 
zoning district."

There is a possibility that a petition to stop the Detroit ordinance 
from taking effect was registered Monday. If the folks at Citizens 
for Sensible Cannabis Reform gathered enough signatures, the city law 
would be put on hold until an election is held and voters decide. 
There were petitions at all the Woodward locations that I visited last week.

Suspending the law's effective date would give shop owners some 
reprieve, but it would be uneasy. Operations were already iffy when 
the city paid no attention to them. Now that the mayor has announced 
an intention to shut them down and brought police Chief James Craig 
into the conversation, in addition to the intimidating letter that 
Corporation Counsel Butch Hollowell sent to business owners, it's 
clear that the fight is on. Lawyers for shop owners have already 
complained of raids and intimidating visits from police in advance of 
the licensing procedure going into effect.

According to the city, there are 651 parcels available for caregiver 
centers in Detroit once all the distances from various institutions 
are considered. Many of those parcels are bunched into industrial 
areas on the southwest and northeast areas of town.

Either way, we're a long way from getting settled about medical 
marijuana's presence in Detroit, or even who's allowed on the map.

"We don't even know if we're going to be here," says Melanie Faison 
of Mile Green Acres.

Nobody else in her business knows either.

At the same time that Detroit is fighting about where medical 
marijuana stores can be located, state Sen. Coleman A. Young II has 
introduced a "non-medical marijuana code" in Lansing. It all seems so 
absurd at times. "Non-medical marijuana" is apparently just 
marijuana, and Young's legislation would regulate and tax 
recreational marijuana. In a curious provision, Young would tax buds 
at $50 per ounce, and leaf at $15 per ounce.

That's just another layer to this crazy patchwork quilt of law 
governing marijuana. Last week the Vermont Senate voted in favor of 
legalizing recreational marijuana (although the provision to allow 
home grows was killed). Pretty soon we're all going to need a phone 
app to tell us what the local marijuana laws are as we move about the 
state or the country. Across the river in Canada, the federal court 
just ruled that denying medical access to marijuana violated the 
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and reinforcing the right of 
patients to grow their own. The Trudeau government is actively 
working on a legal recreational marijuana plan. That's right; we can 
stand downtown and see a prohibition-free nation.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom