Ypsilanti City Council to consider limit on medical marijuana facilities
The Ypsilanti City Council Tuesday night will consider an ordinance that would cap the number of new medical marijuana dispensaries and grow facilities in the city.
The new proposed ordinance comes after an emergency moratorium failed by a 3-3 vote in early June.
But this time it appears supporters of a cap have the votes to pass a permanent ordinance.
The emergency moratorium would have immediately prohibited any dispensaries from opening in the city, but needed to pass with four-fifths of council members approving.
Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson and Council Member Ricky Jefferson proposed the emergency moratorium because they said they had heard complaints from residents about the number of marijuana facilities.
Mayor Paul Schreiber, Council Member Brian Robb and Council Member Dan Vogt voted against it. Council Member Pete Murdock abstained.
The new ordinance would allow six dispensaries and three grow facilities in the city, according to City Planner Teresa Gillotti.
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
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.
Schreiber said he voted against the emergency moratorium because the resolution stated that the issue protected "public peace, health, safety or welfare." Schreiber said he didn’t believe that the issue constituted a threat to public safety and warranted an emergency moratorium.
Three operations had expressed an interest in opening in the city earlier this year. Those that have submitted paperwork wouldn't be impacted by the new legislation. GIllotti confirmed the owners of one operation had submitted paperwork but she did not respond to questions about the other two.
Schreiber told AnnArbor.com on Monday that he did support a cap on the number of facilities operating in the city and will vote in favor of the ordinance, giving council the necessary votes to pass a limit.
“I think at the time, I felt it was not a matter of public safety and welfare. I didn’t see that for this particular ordinance,” Schreiber said. “I did mention that I was in agreement with (Council Member) Murdock about capping the amount of licenses.”
“I intend to vote for the ordinance tomorrow night,” he added.
Schreiber said dispensary and grow operation issues remain “fluid” at the state level, which presents legal questions for local communities.
“The state needs to do a better job defining what local units of government are able to do. It would be risky for the city to be opening more medical marijuana facilities and I think our community is well served with the number we have currently.”
Robb said he still opposed capping the number of medical marijuana facilities while Murdock said he didn't have a strong opinion one way or the other. Jefferson and Vogt couldn't be reached for comment.
Police Chief Amy Walker previously told council 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 had only five calls for service.
The council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in City Council Chambers, 1 S. Huron St.
Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com. Contact the news desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2572.