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Posted on Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti residents concerned as council rejects emergency moratorium on medical marijuana facilities

By Katrease Stafford


The chart shows where the city's medical marijuana facilities are located and where potential ones may be placed.

Courtesy Ypsilanti

Ypsilanti will not impose an emergency moratorium against new medical marijuana dispensaries and grow facilities, despite pleas from several residents to consider the ordinance.

"All of these drugs right now are tearing up our community," said Ypsilanti resident Brian Foley, who has lived in the city for 53 years. "I'm a recovering addict. I know the pain of addiction and we have a lot of pain on my side of town. I'm a lifelong resident of Ypsilanti. I don't want my city to be known as the dope capital of the midwest."

Council member Ricky Jefferson and Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson brought forth the ordinance on May 21, which requested no additional permits and licenses be granted related to medical marijuana for 60 days until city staff reviews the present density of licenses already granted.

To impose the emergency ordinance, it would have taken four-fifths of council to vote in favor of it for it to pass. Jefferson, Richardson and Council Member Susan Moeller voted in favor of it. Mayor Paul Schreiber, Council members Brian Robb and Daniel Vogt voted against it. Council Member Pete Murdock abstained.

"I am very moved by the fact that the citizens don't want to see these businesses by their homes," Moeller said.

Council originally voted to table the ordinance at the May meeting.

Jefferson said his main concern and drive to propose the moratorium was based on what he believes is a high number of facilities located within Ward 1, which he represents.

"This thing was kind of backdoored on us," said Ypsilanti resident Ken Harrison. "I remember going to Abe's Coney Island one day and then the next thing I knew, it was a (marijuana) facility in the back. We have halfway houses, assisted living facilities popping up everywhere. It's time we’re notified prior to these things coming up."

Thumbnail image for RickyJefferson.jpg

Ricky Jefferson

Ypsilanti has the following dispensaries and grow facilities within city limits:

  • Ward 1 has two dispensaries, with one potential dispensary. The ward also has one grow facility and one potential grow facility.
  • Ward 2 has one dispensary.
  • Ward 3 has three dispensaries and one potential grow facility.

Several community members attended the May 21 and June 4 meetings to voice their disapproval of more dispensaries opening in the community — particularly Ward 1.

Yet, some residents and dispensary owners had a different belief and stated the businesses are good for the city and local economy.

Ypsilanti resident John Evans, who gave a presentation Tuesday entitled the "History/Synopsis of Medical Marijuana" is in favor of the facilities. Evans is a medical marijuana activist and medical marijuana patient.

"I'm here telling my city council that i want to be progressive," Evans said. "That's how social change works. We don't wait for Washington. Saturation should be defined by the free market in a capitalist society."

Ypsilanti business owner Dave Heikkinen said business owners in the downtown district had initial concerns about Herbal Solutions, at 124 W Michigan Ave, opening, but he said no issues have been reported.

"We had concerns when this whole thing took off," Heikkenen said. "We had a town hall with Herbal Solutions. Like it or not, we've lived harmoniously since they opened up."

Jamie Lowell of 3rd Coast Compassion Center, a dispensary, said he believes a town hall meeting should be held so both sides can discuss their concerns.

"If we could do a town hall or some meeting outside of this to examine what are our serious issues, we could learn more about this together and move forward," Lowell said.

Rick Thompson, a parent of an Eastern Michigan University student and a Clear Channel radio show host said "a vocal minority should not be allowed to rule over a vocal majority," citing Ypsilanti's recent measures passed in favor of medical marijuana by residents.

Former Mayor Cheryl Farmer, who is also a practicing physician, is against more dispensaries and facilities opening.

"The idea of adding medical to marijuana was to make it more palatable to the citizenry," Farmer said. "Let's not keep pretending it's medical."

Farmer said the city has more than enough dispensaries and facilities for the entire population of the city.

"We've got plenty to take care of the people in our city," Farmer said. "We don't need to serve Toledo and Detroit. Let's study the issue and decide what we want."

Police Chief Amy Walker said the current facilities have had relatively low calls for service, but she doesn't believe more would be good for the city. Between May 2012 and May 2013 all of the city's medical marijuana facilities received only five calls.

"That's my personal opinion," Walker said. "I do believe marijuana is a gateway to heavier drugs and we have a hard enough time fighting the drug problem (we already have.) I understand the hot topic it is, but in my humble opinion, there are plenty dispensaries to go around these four square miles. I don’t think the city wants to promote itself as medical marijuana mecca."

Reverend Garther Roberson of the Mt. Olive Baptist Church at 718 North Prospect, said he's lived in Ypsilanti for more than 85 years and believes the city must do more to prevent a rising number of new medical marijuana facilities.

"I've watched this great city as we've had ups and downs," Robeson said. "Marijuana in itself isn't the bad thing, it's the question of what it leads to. Why must it be on the south side?"

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.



Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 2:09 a.m.

Pete Murdock voted to abstain. That's rich.

Speedy Squirrel

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 12:11 a.m.

The discussion is not about the risks or benefits of Marijuana. The discussion is about a communities interest in regulating how many marijuana shops a city of our size should have. Residents of the state approved medical usage of marijuana. The approved usages are: (1) Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn's disease, agitation of Alzheimer's disease, nail patella, or the treatment of these conditions. (2) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces 1 or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis. Given the size of the city, and the rate of incidence of the above conditions, it seems that the number of dispensaries is vastly more than the incidence of need. It seems likely in fact that some are gaming the system to obtain this drug for recreational use. The voters did not approve this drug for recreational use. Further, it seems that, just like liquor stores, people are purchasing the drug legally, and then re-distributing it for recreational use illegally to minors. These sales are to minors in a city that significantly underperforms in every educational category. My view is, if you want to use marijuana recreationally, accept reasonable regulation on distribution, just like alcohol and cigarettes.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

@Cheryl Farmer: as a practicing physician I hope you will try to understand the following: My daughter has degenerative disc disorder. She has had a total of four back surgeries. All these surgeries have done for her in the long run is give her some relief for a short period of time. She has had every so-called pain pill that Big Pharma has to offer. The list of what she has taken reads like an inventory list at any hospital. she can no longer take any of them because of what they have done to her liver/kidney function. plus, these med's, over time, stop working. And are considerably more habit-forming than marijuana. Today, the only way my daughter can deal with this horrible pain is a hot shower and a joint. How dare you imply that my daughter, or anyone else for that matter has to live with this kind of pain simply because you don't happen to like it?!


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

For those predisposed to addictive behaviors, just about any substance can be a "gateway" -- paint, vanilla, cough syrup, alcohol and prescription meds of many kinds. Marijuana is not a physically addictive substance. This is established fact. Some consider it to be psychologically addictive, however. People committed to anesthetizing themselves will find a way, regardless. Liquor and nicotine are far more insidious and destructive overall than marijuana has ever been or will ever be.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Let me make sure I have this straight. Mr. Murdock, who just a few weeks ago proposed a resolution that would have prohibited council members from abstaining unless they had a clear conflict of interest, abstained on the vote? Why? Does he own a dispensary or a grow operation?


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

What point? That it's ok to behave in a juvenile fashion in order to make a point? As he correctly pointed out at the time, the citizenry expect their representatives to vote yes or no.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

He was simply making a point - very effectively I might add. Wake up, Solitude!


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

Katrease, could you explain why my comment was removed? I suggested a more accurate headline being, "A small uneducated proportion of Ypsilanti residents concerned..." I've read the commenting guidelines and don't see how I've violated them.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

The citizens, speaking in opposition to the current policy in Ypsi, definitely exposed a lack of knowledge concerning cannabis and are clearly in need of learning the truth about it before continuing to perpetuate myths or making serious, yet unsubstantiated or thoroughly debunked claims. However, I do not question the sincerity or the intelligence of these people. I proposed at the meeting, and hope to actually realize a public forum to get the concerns and issues out in the open and properly examine them to determine where there really is a need to concentrate on fixing real, identifiable problems.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

Sorry Katrease, I guess I never clicked to the button to post it....


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

Ricky Jefferson is very disingenuous. I was at the meeting last night. This has nothing to do with zoning or limiting. This is about a complete ban. And Mr. Jefferson said as much last night. Ann Arbor dot com should have quoted him on that.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

Please allow me to explain/correct my above statement. I don't agree with most of the complaints and their bases, only with those who may feel there is an unnecessary concentration of these businesses. Just like one wouldn't want too many of any one type of business in their communities or neighborhoods. Again, let the rules of capitalism decide when there are too many. MJ certainly isn't ypsi's biggest problem, if a problem at all. And, of course the Police Chief is not liking cuts off their "gateway to confiscation" and reselling of personal property.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

I am not a citizen of ypsi, there fore I feel I have no right to opine on the matter. I tend to see most of the complaining residents points, however. Seems as though they would have enough, but the rules of capitalism do say that the market will determine how many is too many. Ms. Walker, on the other dumber than rocks.Are they gonna outlaw cigarettes? Beer? ...these things are much more "gateway drugs"than weed.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 7:48 p.m.

Chief Walker is primarily a politician. Her top job priority is pandering.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

The title hits the nail on the head. There are plenty of Ypsilanti residents who are concerned and most of them do not leave comments on (or maybe even read this for that matter) but instead, choose to speak up at neighborhood association meetings and/or directly to their council representatives as it should be. This is definitely a topic that will be part of the decisionmaking process when it comes to re-election time.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 6:02 p.m.

Recent polls suggest a continuous increase of citizens wanting medical marijuana available for those who could benefit, for the reduction of penalties for adults using small amounts, and for the out right legalization. The most definitive polls, however, take place at the ballot box where Ypsilanti voters have been the most supportive and progressive in the country. Medical Marihuana was approved and supported by 83% of the voters in 2008, and the Lowest Level Enforcement Priority initiative was voted in by 74%. It is abundantly clear that those who have spoken in opposition to cannabis reform ,to their council reps and who have also participated in public meetings, are the vocal minority, accurately described by Mr. Thompson during the meeting. These same people are genuinely concerned, and are not apathetic and exercising their rights and participating in the process. That should be commended and it should result in the opportunity for these issues to be seriously looked at.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

I would love to see some examples about how making the purchase of this plant easier and less dangerous is somehow "tearing apart the city". I imagine the former addict was NOT addicted to marijuana.

Basic Bob

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

i'm sure you're right. a using addict looking for 'dope' in ypsi will be mighty disappointed when the dope dealer offers him a bag of marijuana. some recovering addicts believe marijuana should be legalized like beer, but that doesn't mean we will pick up when the law changes.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Marijuana is a natural drug that grows from the Earth with minimal harmful effects that provides relief to those that suffer, and that's your biggest drug concern in Ypsi?? Maybe we should all be a little more concerned about the hard drugs being made and sold on the streets of Ypsilanti, not the dispensaries legally providing it to patients.

David Cahill

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

Medical marijuana is an exit drug from harmful prescription pain medications.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

Maybe they can sponsor a screening of Reefer Madness to demonstrate how dangerous the reefer menance is.

The Picker

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Duh !


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

Nick, have you seen this movie? it's so chock-full of misinformation it's actually funny! The ultimate propaganda movie!


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

I don't know about any of you, but I'm going to buy some stock in Doritos before the day is out!

Joey Ismail

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

If you want an emergency moratorium, you first must have an emergency. A few loons complaining because they don't like marijuana and hate the fact that people are using it isn't an emergency. In fact, it isn't even an issue. The dispensary are causing no trouble, no issues, so this is a non story. Get a life and go home loons, your stupidity is alarming.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

States where pot has been legalized for all adults have begun training their police dogs to ignore pot. Their police departments are adjusting to not using pot as a crutch excuse and cornerstone of police work.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Maybe now the city council will turn its efforts to the nonfictional crises facing the community and stop pretending that medical marijuana is somehow playing a role in the city's demise. Jefferson and Richardson should stop burying their respective heads in the sand and focus on real problems, not those they invent in an attempt to score cheap political points. Moeller should stop pandering to every special interest that begs for her support. Lastly, it's incomprehensible that Farmer would think that anyone would give a hoot about her opinion on anything, especially what's best for the City of Ypsilanti. Stop the political theater and start focusing on real solutions to real problems.

The Picker

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

Wish Ricky and Lois a fond Farewelll !


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

I have serious doubts that MJ is the drug that is tearing apart Ypsi. Perhaps the police chief should look at how the real world works.The reason MJ may be a "gateway drug" is because if it is bought on the black market dealers have all sorts of other things to sell their customers. I don't know anybody that gets their MJ from a dispensary and then goes out looking for coke of heroin. The worst drugs and associated problems (hold ups, fraud, abuse of pain relievers, etc) seem to be at pharmacies. There have been multiple armed robberies at CVS and Walgreen stores in Washtenaw County over the last couple of years. Is there any call from Council to limit the number of these crime centers?


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Never has so much money, time and energy been wasted on the war on a plant. Legalize Now. I'd like to hear from these several so called "concerned citizens". Please post your reasons here why you are fighting capitalism in the city of Ypsilanti.

Basic Bob

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 10:53 a.m.

The drugs they should be concerned about are the synthetic opioids such as Vicodin. These pills leave crime waves in their path: stolen pills, cash, and home electronics. When people run out of their pills, they switch to heroin and contract hepatitis and HIV.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 10:36 a.m.

It's time to stop quoting Cheryl Farmer. Water Street has proven what her opinions are worth.

Buzz Buzz

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 11:33 p.m.

Oh, I agree. Her opinions are worthless.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

absolutely! what really gets me is she claims to be a doctor.......I sure wouldn't recommend her to my daughter(see my comment below)


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 10:33 a.m.

Mr Walker said " I do believe marijuane is the gateway drug to heavier drugs" In my opinion alchohol and nicotine are the real gateway drugs.

Richard P Steeb

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

They're both "heavier drugs" [toxicity-wise] as well.

John Tuttle

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

If it was a gateway drug, then half of my old high school classmates would be junkies. Not one went farther than pot - unless you count booze and cigarettes, which are legal drugs, highly regulated by the government, and quite addictive, unlike pot.