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Posted on Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

Letter to Ann Arbor City Council asks city attorney to lay off medical marijuana dispensaries

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor City Council is prepared to take up the issue of medical marijuana tonight, and the city's licensing board is asking the city attorney's office to lay off dispensaries. obtained a copy of a letter the five-member medical marijuana advisory body sent to council members on Friday in support of a resolution on tonight's agenda.

In the letter, members of the licensing board argue the city attorney's office seems to be aggressively trying to shut down dispensaries while the board tries to license them.


The city attorney's office says medical marijuana dispensaries in Ann Arbor must be in compliance with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, but the city's medical marijuana licensing board asks: "How can dispensaries be in compliance with the MMMA when they are not even mentioned in the MMMA?"

Ryan J. Stanton |

"These dispensaries are serious, and obeying the local laws for them to be in business," the letter reads. "What more do they have to do?"

The city attorney's office says medical marijuana dispensaries in Ann Arbor must be in compliance with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, but the city's medical marijuana licensing board asks in the letter: "How can dispensaries be in compliance with the MMMA when they are not even mentioned in the MMMA?"

"Dispensaries are openly operating in areas throughout Michigan, including our neighbors to the east, Ypsilanti, who recently renewed their dispensaries' licenses for a year," the letter reads. "Our resolution to you Monday is a request for you to tell the city attorneys to stop enforcement activities against dispensaries until you have had time to look over the advisory board's resolutions."

The letter goes on to make a case for having dispensaries in Ann Arbor and argues marijuana has legitimate medical benefits. Members of the licensing board took a tour of local dispensaries and said they were impressed with their consistent level of professionalism and the privacy and security provided to patients seeking treatment for various conditions.

"We saw remedies for pain, anxiety, appetite stimulators, and more, and recently learned of one dispensary offering a salve for arthritis pain," the letter reads. "This may work better than traditional chemical medicine in the blood because our blood doesn't flow through our joints. Anyway, patients claim it works better."

They argue there is no other vehicle for patients to find caregivers, and there is no other vehicle for caregivers to find patients.

Council Member Sabra Briere, who serves as the council's liaison on the board, shared the letter with She said she wasn't involved in drafting or editing it.

In addition to Briere, the city's medical marijuana licensing board includes four citizens: Jim Kenyon, Patti O'Rorke, Gene Ragland and John Rosevear.

According to state officials, more than 131,000 people in Michigan have been approved for medical marijuana and thousands more serve as caregivers. The state recently ordered a new printer that will allow it to produce 4,000 medical marijuana cards a day.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Wilford John Presler IV

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

Ann Arbor could be a leader in pulling Michigan out of these terrible economic times...In spite of the current State Government... (A &quot;GREEN&quot; Medical Mile) and take full advantage of the creation of new jobs in this burgeoning industry, jobs such as doctors, nurses, medical assistants, receptionists,technicians ,thc testing lab personnel, growers,bud tenders, hydroponics store owners, clerks, jobs in manufacturing and assembly ,lighting manufacturing,fertilizer production,advertising,marketing trucking, even government jobs in licensing those patients and caregivers (LARA just purchased new equipment and hired more people to process applications),licensing and taxation of stores that support the industry and the carriers that haul the supplies to those stores. I could go on and on but I think I made my point... And this is only in the medical marijuana industry. If we want to talk about legal hemp production for textiles,food, sustainable bio-energy,etc.... I could write a book.... like this one... <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Tue, Mar 6, 2012 : 9:07 a.m.

Maybe there are a lot of people gaming the system for weed, but that is no reason to shut down the dispensaries. There are a lot of people who use it legitamitely, and they should be able to. Instead, maybe the requirements for obtaining a Med. Marijuana card should be stricter.


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

As drugs go marijuana is one of the most benign. Certainly it is less destructive to society and to the human body than alcohol. People do not get high and beat their wives and children or pick fights with their friends or neighbors nor do people die of liver disease from smoking the stuff. It is illegal but as we know reason plays little role in policy decisions in America today. Better to make drugs illegal, drive up the profits of the drug entrepreneurs (job makers?), and enhance their incentives to expand their market base. Meanwhile we can spend millions on prisons and encourage graft and corruption in the judicial and enforcement arms of our government. I personally am opposed to medical marijuana. I think that it should be completely decriminalized and folks should be able to grow whatever they want in the privacy of their homes and gardens. However, the people have voted in favor dressing up legalization as &quot;medical marijuana.&quot; So, leave 'em to it and quit quibbling over the details.

Martin Church

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

I say keep shutting them down. It was not suppose to happen this way according to the law and according the the bogus fliers we the voters where told was going to happen. If this substance is to become legal by the federal government, lets have it dispensed the the drug store not some side walk vendor that does not care about the welfare of the users. I wish the city attorney in Ypsilanti would follow Ann Arbor's lead and start shutting these guys down. I have watched too many of my friends burn their lives away on this stuff.


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

I agree with only one part of your statement - let's keep marijuana off the streets and out of the hands of people who don't care about patients' health. Luckily the compassion clubs and collectives that are still in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti care very much about the quality of the medicine, the science behind the medicine, and the legalities of providing safe access.

Tom Joad

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.

The Medical Marijuana statute doesn't allow or even provide for dispensaries to sell to patients and a Michigan appeals court has ruled them all to be operating illegally under the law. Why are Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti actively encouraging the proliferation of these illegal dispensaries? They sell marijuana for over $400 an oz and they call money exchanging hands &quot;donations.&quot; They are also formulating medicine in the form of &quot;edibles&quot; which are baked goods and candies infused with cannabis. Where is the oversight on these modes of delivery? Most emergency room visits concerning marijuana are the result of people ingesting these marijuana laced edibles, which can cause severe anxiety and panic attacks. Marijuana is not a benign drug. It's efficacy for pain relief should be reserved for the gravest and most serious ailments, including those suffering from terminal disease. It should not be prescribed by prescription mills where the doctor is interviewing the patient on video from West Hollywood, CA. The voters of the MM law were hoodwinked by good intentions but the result has been a shameless money grab by pot profiteers masquerading as caregivers.

Joey Ismail

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

Nothing but silly hysteria. Marijuana is safer than a bottle of advil. Again, don't quite your day job Doctor Doolittle. You worry about your body, with your doctor. Ill worry about mine. If you think marijuana should be the last resort, when it is medically speaking the safest option, your not qualified to hand out &quot;advise&quot; to a dying dog, much less a sick human.


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

We were supposed to be a group of states, not the ditatorship of Washington. Let the states decide how they wish on issues that are important to them. Amazing how the federal gov't has grown and grown and continues to grow. Much like cancer.

Joey Ismail

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

Agreed. All that's left is a crown and a couple of jesters. This is what the founding fathers had in mind.


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

Well if certain states had not insisted on keeping people in slavery a couple hundred years ago then we wouldn't be having this problem, but since they fought to the death to keep their slaves this is what we got.


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

I'd be interested to know what percentage of the marijuana dispensary clients are true caregivers/patients and what percentage are simply pot heads. I would wager that it is highly tilted toward the pothead side. And while this should be a free country where you are entitled to fry your brain in whichever way you see fit, I will probably be paying the medical and/or welfare expenses for these people now or in the future. I don't like that. How about allowing the dispensaries but tightening the process for permitting who can purchase the product?


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 10:08 p.m.

You might be surprised how many people look fine but are truly in pain. I think it's unfortunate that people who have chronic pain or other sicknesses and choose to use medical marijuana to treat their ailments are judged because they actually LIKE their medication. Is liking your meds a problem? I don't think so. In all fairness you could very easily turn the question around and ask how many vicodin, oxycontin, anti-anxiety, etc patients are actually just pill-heads? And one of my favorite things is to see and talk to MM Patients who have beat addictions to pills - which cause serious physical side effects - and are now leading productive lives because they turned to marijuana - which causes extremely minimal side effects in most people. Also, as Joey Ismail already stated, marijuana doesn't &quot;fry&quot; anything - in fact, recent studies have shown that even heavy users who experience short term memory loss recover it after they stop using. Get the facts people!!!!!! Don't let the government snow you into believing the Reefer Madness stuff.

Joey Ismail

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

Marijuana doesn't &quot;fry&quot; anything. You need to stop reading so many comic books. Its called &quot;science&quot;, it isn't evil, I promise.


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

Postema needs to get off of his white horse, take off his chain mail and lay down his sword. He is so far out of step with the people who pay his salary and the statewide voter mandate it isn't even funny.

John of Saline

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

Medical marijuana was sold to the public as treatment for serious problems (MS, intractable cancer pain, etc.). When you hear about actual &quot;patients,&quot; the &quot;treatment&quot; is for ill-defined &quot;anxiety&quot; and other silliness. It just confirms what the doubters said: most of the customers are stoners, gaming the system to get their high.

Steve Hendel

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 11:20 p.m.

Nobody is saying that anxiety is not a serious condition, and for all I know marijuana is effective in alleviating it; but really, can there be that many young males under the age of 40 (who are, per State records- I have been told-the great majority of 'users' registered with the State) who suffer from anxiety or some some similar condition? Especially when the diagnosis is made by a doctor employed by the dispensary/caregiver? Really?


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 9:55 p.m.

How dare you? Excuse me, but your ignorance is showing. Obviously you do not care enough about this issue to research the facts nor are you educated enough to know that anxiety and other &quot;silliness&quot; are real, debilitating disorders. I'm going to make a wild assumption here and suggest that you should go back to listening to Rush Limbaugh radio for your news.

Joey Ismail

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

Yeah anxiety is nothing to joke about. Anti anxiety medicine is very addictive and deadly. If marijuana helps those people that's a very good thing. You might want to actually know something about the subject before you hand out &quot;medical&quot; advise over the internet.

Basic Bob

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 6:39 p.m.

Actually, marijuana is quite effective at treating anxiety, which is not a laughing matter for people who suffer from it. Do you share the same disdain for people taking Prozac or Paxil for the same recognized medical condition? Making you think those people &quot;gaming&quot; the doctors should man up and get loaded on legal booze instead, or go live under bridges.


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

&quot;These dispensaries are serious, and obeying the local laws for them to be in business,&quot; the letter reads. &quot;What more do they have to do?&quot; If they are obeying the local laws, what are authorities busting them for? I voted for medical marijuana, but am amazed by the freaky dope den type facilities that I see in the pictures of the dispensaries. I, perhaps stupidly, thought it would be dispensed in clinic atmospheres as are other medical services. Maybe the law and it's implementation was poorly thought out. I do personally know people who are &quot;patients&quot;, but laugh about it. I also would agree with just legalizing it and taking the money prize away from the bad guys.


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 6:46 p.m.

Sorry, being a child from the 60's I am capable of recognizing a non-professional looking establishment even in a &quot;low res&quot; picture on here.


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

Check it out before you stick your foot in your mouth.


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

Instead of looking at the lo res pics online, ones chosen by annarbordotcom, why not go to a clinic and see for yourself?


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

Did we really need two articles for the same story? I know the Detroit Free Press has led the trend of breaking down insignificant stories into dozens of articles, but there is no reason to follow its lead.


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 6:07 p.m.

They get paid for every click on their webpage by their advertisers, that's how it works and why they do it

Stan Hyne

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

I am opposed to marijuana use. I voted against the use of marijuana for medical purposes. I lost so it should be legal. I accept that it will be grown/sold. I will quit fighting and let it happen. The government/police should also quit fighting and let it happen and not use a back door approach to try to stop the use of marijuana. We lost, accept it.

Rod Johnson

Tue, Mar 6, 2012 : 1:30 a.m.

Graciously expressed, kudos.

Joey Ismail

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 7:35 p.m.

Exactly. That's how democracy works. Its not OK to abandon everything we stand for simply because we lose a vote or an issue. The people have spoken. Prohibition has never worked, its going to come to an end. It is inevitable.


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Ryan where pray tell did you get any kind of degree in journalism? As usual has chosen to ask a poll question so as not to let people express what their thoughts are!


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

craigjjs I did not phrase that correctly, but then I do not profess to have a degree in journalism. I was trying to express my continuing disappointment in the poll questions on this site trying to lead the conclusion to a particular place. justcurious Duh Ya Think?


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

I think your question is insulting, but this information is on this site if you really wanted to know. &quot;Ryan J. Stanton is a digital journalist covering government and politics for, keeping a close eye on the Ann Arbor City Council, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners and the latest happenings in Michigan's state Capitol in Lansing. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in fine arts from Central Michigan University and worked at newspapers in Bay City, Mich., and Tucson, Ariz., before joining the staff of before its launch in July 2009. He has been recognized by the Associated Press, Michigan Press Association, Arizona Newspapers Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and the Society of Professional Journalists for his enterprise and investigative reporting. When he's not writing about politics, he enjoys kayaking, mountain biking, hiking/backpacking, playing guitar, creating art, photography, vegan foods and hoppy pale ales. &quot;


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

So, the poll is preventing you from expressing your thoughts? What then was your post? No thought involved?


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

I do not understand the poll question. Why do dispensaries necessarily mean there are more than five patients per caregiver? Every patient can be one of five for a caregiver, but get their medicine from a dispensary, right?

Steve Hendel

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 12:27 p.m.

Have we forgotten that proverbial elephant in the room, i.e. the fact that State and local laws which facilitate, allow and regulate the cultivation and use of marijuana are directly in contravention of federal law? The fact that the federal government CURRENTLY elects a has &quot;don't ask, don't tell&quot; policy on the subject is irrelevant to this basic fact; if one of the Republican troglodytes seeking the Presidency actually wins the election in November, you can bet that policy will change in a New York minute. If we as a society want to legalize and regulate marijuana, let's do so by changing the law rather than ignoring it; just dressing up drug dealers in the 'Emperor's new clothes' of care providers is not the way to go.

Wilford John Presler IV

Wed, Mar 7, 2012 : 7:22 a.m.

The Emperor Wears No Clothes <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

G. Orwell

Tue, Mar 6, 2012 : 3:22 a.m.

Ron Paul wants to legalize marijuana while Obama is currently doing everything possible to shut down dispensaries. Even tough the states have legalized dispensaries. Obama is way out of line and he needs to stop harassing states. It is none of your business.

Joey Ismail

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

What do you suggest people do? They have been fighting tooth and nail for decades now, the federal government won't even have an honest discussion. Personally I love this approach. It is the exact same way prohibition ended, and it hands power back to the states. The federal government has far too much power, we need to get back to the constitution.