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Posted on Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ypsilanti City Council approves cap on medical marijuana facilities

By Tom Perkins

The City of Ypsilanti will limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries and grow facilities allowed to operate in the city.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the Ypsilanti City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance capping the number of facilities at nine

That leaves space for two more grow operations and one more dispensary, and three facilities already have their paperwork in with the city.

Ypsilanti currently has one dispensary in Ward 1; one dispensary in Ward 2; and three dispensaries and in Ward 3. Two grow facilities have been proposed for Ward 1 and another in Ward 3.

Mayor Paul Schreiber, Council Member Ricky Jefferson, Council Member Dan Vogt and Council Member Pete Murdock voted in favor of the cap. Council member Brian Robb voted against it.

Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson and Council Member Susan Moeller were absent.

“Eighty-three-percent voted for medical marijuana - that’s in the neighborhood I live in,” said Ward 1 representative Jefferson. “But now they’re saying ‘We’ve had enough.’ They didn’t vote on dispensaries and it’s still in the air with the state.”

Ward 1 representatives Jefferson and Richardson proposed the legislation after they said they heard complaints from residents about the number of dispensaries and grow operations, especially in Ward 1 on Ypsilanti’s south side.


The Herbal Solutions dispensary in downtown Ypsilanti.

Tom Perkins | For

The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act passed overwhelmingly in Ypsilanti. In the 2008 vote on whether or not to legalize medical marijuana, Ward 1 voted 1,672 to 359 in favor of it. Ward 2 voted 2,278 to 577 in favor, and Ward 3 voted 1,833 to 441 in favor.

But the act doesn't include any language on the legality of dispensaries and grow operations, which has been a point of contention between supporters and opponents.

The new ordinance comes after an emergency moratorium failed by a 3-3 vote in early June. That would have immediately prohibited any new medical marijuana facilities from opening, including those that have begun the process of opening.

Schreiber and Vogt opposed the emergency moratorium, and Murdock abstained from that vote, but all supported the new ordinance.

Vogt, however, supported the ban after saying that the volume of medical marijuana bought or consumed will not be impacted by a limit on facilities. Because of its zoning laws, the city previously could have had a maximum of nine dispensaries and five grow operations.

Vogt called that a small difference and contended that people who want medical marijuana can simply go to the dispensaries and grow operations already open.

“I don’t see it as either helpful or particularly harmful to change (the ordinance) either way,” Vogt said. “I think it has no effect when you think about it in purely logical and objective terms … all of this has been much ado about nothing, logically speaking.”

Schreiber said he preferred a a solid cap not determined by zoning.

“Alcohol has license limits and I don’t see why we should not have them for medical marijuana,” he said. “I think it’s good that we know how many licenses are available instead of relying on zoning where medical marijuana is located.”

Prior to Tuesday night’s vote, Murdock said he didn’t feel strongly one way or the other on the issue. He passed on the moratorium vote to wait and see how other council members voted and ultimately supported the ordinance.

Robb, the lone "no" vote, said the ordinance amounted to prohibition and an attempt to stop a grow operation trying to open in Ward 1 on South Huron Street.

"This is the wrong tool to accomplish what people seem to want to accomplish," he said.

During a public hearing, Ypsilanti Planning Commission member Mark Bullard contended that the act was overwhelmingly approved and he felt that the city hadn't given dispensaries enough time to prove whether they're an asset or a problem.

“The vote was clearly in favor of medical marijuana, and from my experience to date with those doing business in the city, it would seem that they would be doing it in a thoughtful way,” he said

Third Coast dispensary owner Jamie Lowell noted that the city’s dispensaries have operated without incident and argued market demand and current zoning laws already act as a cap.

He said the' argument that a high number people seen entering and leaving the city’s dispensaries indicates saturation is not valid.

“If anything it speaks to the need for more dispensaries, not saturation,” he said.

Several residents gave impassioned pleas for council to pass the ordinance and characterized the dispensaries as “drug houses” and their operators as “drug dealers”.

Ypsilanti resident Brian Foley said medical marijuana continues to impact his neighborhood.

“When you put "medicinal" in front of marijuana, there’s no difference than street marijuana whatsoever,” Foley said.

Jefferson underscored that his constituents see the dispensaries as a problem.

"What happens in our community defies all logic," he said, responding to Vogt's comment that the ordinance would have no impact, logically speaking. "Being a part of my neighborhood for over 54 years, it doesn’t matter whether it’s legal drugs or drug solicited in the streets, it finds a way to be sold in the street and it finds a way to get into families' homes and destroy homes."

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


Joey Ismail

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

What a joke. Next up an emergency moratorium to discuss capping the number of pharmacies! We are being led by morons.....


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:44 a.m.

2 wrongs don't make a right. Just cause there is too many pharmacies, doesn't mean we should have too many dispensaries. Maybe its not fair but when has life been fair to everybody ? Booze lovers can fill their gas tanks up while they buy a case of beer, M.M. patients have to go out of their way to buy their meds. Not fair but would I like to see gas stations selling weed also, not really. Bad enough some sell booze, IMO

Robert Granville

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

You heard it here first: Marijuana will destroy your home. It's a pernicious weed... will creep into the foundation walls and turn them to rubble. LOL In all seriousness though, I'm tired of politicians saying things like this, "But now they're saying 'We've had enough.' They didn't vote on dispensaries and it's still in the air with the state." I'm sorry I do use cannabis so correct me if I'm mistaken but The People had a vote and overwhelming approved mmj. When did the polls open again to take The People's opinion on dispensaries and how many there should be? Apparently WE have had enough. When exactly did we tell him this at the polls? I swear I don't remember.....


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

I believe that the citizens of Ypsilanti do not want their representatives to arbitrarily make unnecessarily restrictive and prohibitive policy changes to the medical marijuana ordinance. I assume, that after this ordinance change is passed, that the masses will demonstrate displeasure by considering utilizing the referendum process.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

That would be great to get a vote on capping because you would probably see the results of everyone who speaks to their council member about the way this is going rather than a blog.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

Marijuana destroying your home, that is the epitome of spreading misinformation to the ignorant masses.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

So much for the separation of church and state in Ypsi. If Richardson and Jefferson think this is going to somehow curtail crime and activities of gangbanging thugs, they are sadly mistaken.

Aaron Bookvich

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

"it finds a way to get into families' homes and destroy homes." - What a load... how many families and homes has marijuana destroyed? I think Big Macs and Coca Cola destroy more lives than pot... how ridiculous. You don't like it, don't do it. It's not like we are talking about crack and heroin.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:37 a.m.

U mean Budweiser and all those pills they sell, happy pills, mood pills, sex pills, sleep pills....lets not forget the powerful pain pills

John of Saline

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

One on my street, actually. It happens.

Robert Granville

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

It wouldn't be suddenly logical if we were talking about crack and heroin. The INSERT DRUG HERE destroys homes/families line is trotted out any time politicians want an excuse to ratchet up the drug war. It has never been anything more than rhetoric... no matter which drug.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

All of hese places operate in contravention to STATE law. The only legitimate means for a patient to buy the stuff is from their designated caregiver per the Supreme Court decision in State v McQueen. The number of patients a caregiver can have is limited to five. The number of caregivers a patient can have is precisely one. It is illegal for anyone to provide it to anyone who has not designated them as their caregiver through the state registry. My understanding is that these dispensaries will sell to anyone who has a patient card, even if those patients have not designated an employee of the dispensary as their caregiver. Dispensary employees break the law daily by selling to unafiliated patients. Would it even be possible for dispensary personnel to have enough patients who they are connected with through the state registry to afford a workable business plan? I think not. Perhaps these business practices need a closer look.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:35 a.m.

Technically you are correct, however there is 130,000 patients who need M.M. If each caregiver can only serve 5 patients, then you need 26,000 caregivers. Patients funds are often times limited also. They can't buy an OZ each time, some folks can just afford to buy a gram every few days, who is going to help them besides a dispensary ? Oh sure a caregiver might but will they go out of their way to sell $15 worth, not likely. So the law looks the other way in a few select countries as the details of the 4 year old law get straighten out. Just like its not right to say drivers who are in the MMMP can;t have any traces of weed in their blood to drive a car, its not right to say there should not be any stores that sell weed. If its legal to buy and use, they should be places to buy weed--just it can't not be sold everywhere--kind of how it should be, IMO (expect ALL counties in Michigan should have least 1 city with dispensaries so patients don't have to drive "forever"

Robert Granville

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

You sure care a whole lot about where patients get their cannabis. Have you ever asked yourself why? Is this your typical approach to citizens struggling with bureaucratic processes?


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

It still blows my mind that something that is clearly in violation of federal law is being "limited" at a municipal level There should be zero municipally approved commerce of a federally banned item. Perhaps the next president will enforce the law and this won't be an issue.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:22 a.m.

Yeah it blows my mind too. R.R. might be rolling in his grave, ha ha

Joey Ismail

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

Pi55 on federal law. This is a local issue, not an Obama issue. Federal lap dogs are a disgrace.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

Wow, can you imagine if they "capped" other successful businesses? "If you ask me, there's too many Zingerman's delis in this town! 83% of people shopped there last year, but now they say "We've had enough" so we should sign a law that prevents more from opening."


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:21 a.m.

Been nice if they capped donut shops and gas stations, yet them selling junk food and breathing gasoline fumes doesn't upset some folks like dispensaries do. Ride a bicycle for a distance and then notice what happens when you bike by a gas station, thats when you really notice those fumes


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

So the only complaint was that these businesses are doing too much business? The council should be ashamed of itself! Why no call to close pharmacies that are robbed on a regular basis, are central to distribution of addictive pain killers and are often used to defraud insurance companies and the government? Plus, I bet the traffic at a CVS is way higher than that of a dispensary. Just sad, complete lack of reasoning, just knee jerk reaction akin to that of the movie "reefer Madness".


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 11:38 a.m.

I agree with Vogt. Much ado about nothing.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 10:23 a.m.

It is unfortunate that ignorant and fear still prevail in Michigan. Those who still treat marijuana as "drug" will need to be educated. It will be hard to educate them until they have cancer, ms, glaucoma, nerve pain, etc. Even when they have the disease, their doctor will still point them to a wrong direction. It is sad.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

@ Paul - it's a plant, that grows naturally in the earth. Alcohol and tobacco are far worse, yet the profits are so high...they are celebrated.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:17 a.m.

It is a drug like alcohol is a drug. IMO its the less evil--pot but its still a drug, just like booze is a drug. Yet drinking a beer in front of kids at a Tiger game is A OK (rolls eyes)