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Posted on Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 6:07 p.m.

Split Ypsilanti City Council approves first reading of medical marijuana licensing procedures

By Tom Perkins

In a split 4-3 vote, the Ypsilanti City Council passed a first reading Tuesday of a resolution detailing the licensing process for medical marijuana dispensaries.

The primary changes made to the resolution at Tuesday night's meeting included a clarification over whose name should be on a dispensary application. A stipulation requiring a process for tracking the amount of medical marijuana at a dispensary was also modified due to concern over HIPPA privacy rules for patient names.

Instead, operators would be required to track the number of caregivers and patients, as well as a dispensary's medical marijuana inventory so the city can determine whether the facility meets state requirements for a legal quantity of the drug.

The particulars of the licensing process have been debated by the council for weeks, and Council Member Brian Robb proposed about a dozen amendments at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Robb, Council Member Ricky Jefferson and Council Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson voted against the resolution.

Robb objected to what he sees as a flawed and restrictive licensing procedure. Jefferson and Richardson voiced more general concerns about medical marijuana dispensaries.

The issue was was previously debated at the council's Jan. 11 meeting, and was tabled following public comment on the resolution. Since then, City Planner Teresa Gillotti has made numerous revisions to the proposal.

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The Ypsilanti City Council passed a first reading of a medical marijuana ordinance Tuesday governing licensing rules.

One of the more hotly debated rules at Tuesday's meeting would prohibit applicants with a felony conviction from applying for a dispensary license. Robb argued in favor of allowing anyone with a felony conviction in the past five or 10 years to still hold a license.

He pointed to the council's recent decision to remove a box from city employment applications asking if a person is a felon.

“I think it’s hypocritical that council didn’t revise that,” he said Tuesday. “It’s okay for a felon to get a job with the city and work with constituents, but they can't open up a store on Michigan Avenue?”

Robb also objected to a rule requiring applicants to detail a security plan for their business. He said that wasn’t asked of any other type of business.

“We don’t require anyone else to (detail) a security system — banks, jewelry stores — so why would we require a medical marijuana facility to provide that?" he asked. “That was one of those things the Police Department wanted, but I thought it was excessive information and there’s no need for it.”

Robb also objected to requiring dispensary applicants to produce proof of fire insurance. He argued that that was a lessor/lessee issue.

Meanwhile, Gillotti clarified several points in her proposal revision following the council's Jan. 11 meeting. For groups, partnerships or LLC's that apply for a license, the "highest level official" will submit personal information and agree to a background check.

In addition, the person in charge of the dispensary's day-to-day operations would be required to apply and agree to a background check.

“For us, if we have an issue, we know who to contact,” Gillotti said Tuesday.

A provision limiting the number of dispensaries to one for every 2,000 residents was also deleted during Gilloti's revision process. She said there were already provisions in the zoning ordinance that require dispensaries to operate at least 500 feet from one another and 1,000 feet from schools.

“I talked with legal counsel and we thought it might be getting us kind of close to a legal issue with being overly restrictive or exclusive,” she said.

The city proposal would also require medical marijuana dispensaries to post a disclaimer measuring at least 11 by 17 inches stating that marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

The proposal offers a 30-day grace period for the city’s existing dispensary, the 3rd Coast Compassion Center, to submit applications before any others are accepted. Other applicants would have 45 days from the passage of the licensing rules to submit their paperwork. Applications would be reviewed on a first come, first served basis.

During the meeting, Robb questioned why the licensing procedures were not based on criteria instead, meaning that the first person to submit an application and meet certain requirements would get a license. He argued that if the city received two applications to open a dispensary at locations within 500 feet of one another, then the city should be able to weigh which was better.

“I think we should be driving this process and instead we’re letting the process drive us,” he said.

Mayor Paul Schreiber said the issue that concerned him most was a lack of direction from the state. He said he feared a lawsuit from people who find the ordinances too restrictive, and from those who oppose medical marijuana.

“This is making it tough on Ypsilanti, and I think we’re doing the best we can,” he said.

He said he was pleased that the first reading passed and that city staff can start to focus some of their energies on looming issues, such as the budget.

“It was an arduous process, and there were some good points that were brought up,” he said. “It’s totally new ground and it’s not surprising it would be hard and emotional process. But I think the good news is we passed it on first reading.”

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for Reach the news desk at 734-623-2530 or



Thu, Feb 3, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

once again, the city with the least resources to back up new regulations and theoretically liberal voter-base has a city council and city staff that consistently over-reach with detailed regulations that are often irrelevant to the issue at hand and inconsistent between issues. My favorite is the rental inspections. If you call and ask them what they are looking for the city will say they can't tell you. Its a set up for multiple inspections for more fees. Really, someone opening a business should submit to a background check and publicize their security plan(giving it to the cops or the city is publicizing it - its not like it would really be kept secret). Did they make Deja Vu do that? Did the eye doctor have to do that? Or how 'bout the new owners of the Wolverine? I agree with Mayor Schrieber's issue about unclear direction from the state. However, that is an opportunity to lead not over reach.


Thu, Feb 3, 2011 : 12:56 a.m.

One would think the DEA and ONDCP has doctors or scientists on staff. Sadly this is not so - we would like to see that changed and believe it is a step to change. Please read and sign the letter petition to appoint a doctor or scientist to the DEA and ONDCP. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Thank you!


Thu, Feb 3, 2011 : 12:56 a.m.

To understand medicinal cannabis and adverse effects of prohibition check out <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>