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Posted on Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Man races to open dispensary in Ypsilanti before ordinance banning it goes into effect

By Tom Perkins


Jim Nemeth says he is determined to open a dispensary in this building on Ypsilanti's south side before a new ordinance capping the number of medical marijuana facilities in the city goes into effect.

Tom Perkins | For

Early in 2013, Jim Nemeth began putting tens of thousands of dollars into remodeling a long-vacant ice cream truck depot into a medical marijuana dispensary.

In his search to find a place to open shop, he said he didn’t have to choose Ypsilanti, but “Ypsilanti chose me.”

“I contacted the city, they said ‘Come on down, we’ll welcome you here,’” Nemeth said. “I met with the city planner, looked at all these locations and figured out that one of the only places I could go was this beat up old gas station (more recently used as the ice cream truck depot), so I took it.”

The location at 539 S. Huron St. in Ward 1 on Ypsilanti’s south side seemed to suit his needs.

But soon after Nemeth submitted paperwork, an emergency ordinance to place an immediate moratorium on the issuing of medical marijuana licenses was proposed at a City Council meeting by Ward 1 Council Member Ricky Jefferson and Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson.

At the time, Jefferson noted that Ward 1 had received three of the last four medical marijuana facility applications and residents there feared that the ward was being “targeted,” though now he says it’s a city-wide concern.

The emergency moratorium failed, but City Council subsequently passed first and second readings of an ordinance limiting to nine the number of grow operations and dispensaries in the city.

Ward 1 now has four medical marijuana facilities open or in the process of opening; Ward 2 has one dispensary; and ward 3 has three facilities and one more preparing to open.

With nine medical marijuana grow operations or dispensary licenses issued or pending, that left Nemeth, who is trying to open the dispensary in Ward 1, facing the possibility that he would lose his investment in a property he doesn’t own.

He felt the ordinance was created by Jefferson and Richardson to stop him from opening his business in their ward.


Renovations are already underway at 539 S. Huron St. in Ypsilanti.

Tom Perkins | For

“(The ordinance) is definitely targeting me,” he said.

Jefferson said that's not true. It's not targeted at a specific facility, he says.

The ordinance will not go into effect until Sept. 5, so Nemeth is now trying to beat the clock and get all his plans approved by the city, receive a license and open shop before that date.

City Planner Teresa Gillotti confirmed Nemeth has submitted his medical marijuana dispensary application and his site plans, which will be up for review at the Aug. 20 Planning Commission meeting.

Nemeth had previously started working on the building without submitting plans and was ordered to stop by the city.

If those plans are approved by the Planning Commission, then Nemeth can restart work on the building on Aug. 21 and has until Sept. 5 to complete it and receive his certificate of occupancy. If he is blocked, Nemeth says he can approach the issue through the court system.

“If the city wants to battle and they have funds to do it, I have funds to do it, too,” he said.

Tension arose at the July 16 City Council meeting when Jefferson questioned why Nemeth hadn’t called him or Richardson to discuss opening the dispensary.

During public comment, several residents expressed their opposition to the dispensary opening, and Jefferson admonished Nemeth for not having the courtesy to meet with a community that opposed his business before opening.

“If he really wants to respect the opposition of the residents and get his point of view to the residents, he knows how to reach us,” Jefferson said in an email after the meeting.

Jefferson pointed out that two other dispensary applicants planning to open in the ward contacted him and decided not to open after it was made clear that residents did not want them there.

“Respect begins when you are a stranger and you enter a new neighborhood with intentions of making significant changes to it, and out of courtesy you assess and consider how the neighbors feel about the proposed changes before you attempt to make any changes. The neighbors have spoken,” Jefferson said.

Nemeth questioned why he had to get in touch with a City Council member to open a business, which he said is an unusual request. He said he has “done everything by the book.”

“I don’t know Ricky. I didn’t know I had to go talk to him. He acted like I offended him, but it wasn’t intentional. I followed all the guidelines,” Nemeth said. “I’d be more than happy to talk to anyone. I think they would be impressed with what we’re trying to do.”

Nemeth said his business model differs slightly from other dispensaries in town in that he plans to offer medical marijuana for little cost to low-income residents who otherwise can’t afford it. He said he would require patients to show medical records and proof of income, and he would also keep limited hours between noon and 4 p.m.

“I’m already pretty well set (financially),” Nemeth said. “This is for people who can't afford medical marijuana. It’s a whole different concept. I’m looking to help people who are in need of it.”

Nemeth said his inspiration was seeing how medical marijuana alleviated the pain his wife suffered before she lost a battle with cancer. He said it worked where traditional medicines failed, and he believes it prolonged her life.

Nemeth said he is determined to open his dispensary.

“It will get open, if it has to be in front of a Circuit Court judge, one way or another, I’m not stopping,” he said.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for Contact the news desk at or 734-623-2572.



Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 3 p.m.

Right off the highway. What is this? Stop and Dispense and Drive Off? I really hope this does not go thru. Too many in Ypsilanti for my liking.


Mon, Aug 12, 2013 : 9:13 p.m.

Is this guy kidding? He didn't just fly in from Tegucigalpa? Say what you will about marijuana, but even the ice cream man needs city permits before legally handing you a watermelon twin-pop. Ah well, it's his money and it's interesting to read about.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

Whether you are for or against pot here is an interesting article.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

I drive past this place daily on my way home from work. I was really excited to see someone fixing it up. Even in its half finished state it already looks far better than it did. The flowers and plants alone make that part of the street look nicer and more welcoming. I hope the city lets him continue fixing it up and open his business there. That section of Ypsi is starting to look more and more spruced up each month and his would be a great addition.


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

Even if he does spruce it up? I really hope this license is declined. We need something better then another medical place showing its way to downtown Ypsilanti.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

Stop the hypocrisy. A small minority of users use it medicinally. Most want it for recreation.. Same with alcohol. Legalize it for recreational use and restrict the growth, processing, and sale to commercial areas. No more (secret) houses blowing up! (But I must say I've never seen a dog run that fast!)


Wed, Aug 14, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

Legalize or not? If you are drug tested? You still will loose your job if you smoke it recreationally or not. So lets keep it restricted. Otherwise, no one will have a job because I hate to say it, do you really want a bus driver or teacher high on dope teaching your children? I think not.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 6:05 p.m.

Wait, there are people using alcohol medicinally? The only disorder I can think of to treat with liberal amounts of alcohol is.... alcoholism withdrawal. But I agree with you. Let's get this silly struggle to legalize it over with already.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

"He said he would require patients to show medical records and proof of income, and he would also keep limited hours between noon and 4 p.m." Why should it be him that decides who he sells his medicine to ? If he wants to open a store, then he should have to legally serve all MMP. Discounts are another matter, got no problems with that part. Patients already been approved by their doctor, why does he believe he has a right to see patients medical he even a doctor and even if so, that is not what the law says. Once you got state approval nobody should be second guessing it.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

Just think, one of these dispensaries today, could go on and become the McDonald's & KFC's of the 1950's. Its a long shot but who knows what will happen with M.M.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

Confusing to me, how a vacant rundown eyesore of a building, could be a better option than a clean,repaired and maintained, tax paying dispensary. Can you actually say that you believe that an abandoned derelict property, greeting visitors as they enter our cityi, would be a better impression than a dispensary? If you believe this then you are short sighted and obviously have a bias against medical marihuana. Need to remember this at election time.

Cameron McLain

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 7:04 p.m.

People think its going to be some huge pot leaf sign and a bunch of stoners hanging out. Its really most likely just going to be a discrete building. It will look so much better than the trash there now. Its sad to see people so bias.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

Exactly! Let's support this, the downsides are minimal.

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

you mean ima have to meet with city council to open my party store across the street? chips n other munchie store?


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

The war on a plant has been an abysmal failure. Time to end the madness. Legalize now.

Cameron McLain

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

Seriously. Watching it unfold so slowly is killing me. Eventually everyone is going to put their face in their palm for not legalizing a long time ago

Tom Joad

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

These dispensaries have no basis under state law in which to operate. Furthermore, the city of Ypsilanti is profiting from these point-of-sale dispensaries by carving out an extra-legal ordinance in which to facilitate the sale of marijuana where the medical marijuana statute makes no provision for such a scheme. Of course this owner would like to profit greatly from the sale of medical marijuana to recoup his substantial investment. It's obvious that the city of Ypsilanti (and Ann Arbor) is benefiting greatly from the sale of marijuana because more prudent and law-abiding cities have closed their dispensaries after the Supreme Court ruling categorically stating that the sale of marijuana is prohibited. All dispensaries should be closed forthwith until the legislature passes and the governor signs a bill specifically outlining the proper distribution of a drug with great potential for abuse.

Cameron McLain

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 6:58 p.m.

You will never cover every grey area, thats an incredibly Farfetched idea. The loopholes will be fixed as they come up, these dispensaries are a great thing for Ypsi.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 6:02 p.m.

The truth is that the city of Ypsilanti is benefiting from having these businesses in town. There are worse problems to have than receiving tax dollars from businesses though. This post does illustrate why we need to change the law to make it very clear that these operations are legal under state law. While we are at it, let's change the federal anti-marijuana laws too.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

Sometimes the law of the land falls behind the times and what people want. When 55 mph on freeways started coming to an end, the law still said 55 and traffic went 60-65 right past police cars--in fact for awhile it was like there was NO speed limit on some freeways. Some states that raised their limits to 65, others to 75 and as the limit in Michigan was being debated, well I seen little enforcement in some cities. Patient's have a right to get their medicine, some have only a few dollars to spend each week, a care giver being limited to 5 patients don't want to sell just a gram a week to one patient. Why care givers can only have 5 patients I no idea but until that changes, M.M. needs dispensaries. I find it funny how booze is sold even in gas stations and no uproar came of that change. You can drink in front of young children at a ball game, again, who believes that is wrong? Glad to see if the law is unfair, its not enforced everywhere. That is how a free country is to be.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

Using Google Maps, I counted 21 pharmacies in Ypsilanti (Including Carpenter Rd (not technically Ypsi, I know)). If 21 pharmacies are not too many, how are five dispensaries too many? If we have too many dispensaries, wouldn't one or two close up due to lack of demand? Sometimes a caregiver is between yields, what is a patient to do then? Additionally, the notion that a prospective business owner has to contact city council before opening a store is ridiculous! What percentage of businesses open in Ypsilanti today were "Okayed" by city council?


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 11:30 p.m.

"I counted 21 pharmacies in Ypsilanti" Yeah, sorry, as much as I support legalization this logic doesn't really make sense. Pharmacies sell many many more products that appeal to many more people than a dispensary. Comparing them to tobacco/smoke shops would be more appropriate, but even then still a stretch.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

There are many-many more people using pharmacies vs dispensaries. Supply and demand. Almost everybody goes a few times a year to a pharmacy. There is only 135,000 people allow to use weed as a medicine. Until it becomes like California and everybody who needs weed can legal use it, then I got no problems with limiting the dispensaries.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

Well said.

Thomas Jones

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

That's OLD gas Station has been an eye sore for way to long!!! I live in Ypsilanti and i'm glad he is there!!! LET THE MAN FIX IT UP!!!! As one of the first buildings you see off on the highway it was shameful to look at or send people downtown for dinner or shopping. First thing people see should look welcoming. Thank you Jim Nemeth Thank you!!!!


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

Murf, reading fail. It was an ice cream TRUCK DEPOT, per the article. So, just a ratty collection of old ice cream trucks. I agree with Thomas, let's have a viable, functioning, well kept business there!


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

Nothing says 'Welcome to Ypsi' better than a medical marijuana dispensary? I beg to differ. Bring back that ice cream shop that was supposedly there who knows how long ago per the sign that had always been on display.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

Jefferson and Richardson have once again disgraced the City of Ypsilanti. The city may be headed for bankruptcy, but at least they did their best at keeping sick and suffering people from obtaining temporary relief. Bravo! By the way, Richardson, we're still waiting to see the accounting of how many tax dollars you spent on your "official" travel, hotel and conference costs for the past several years. Why the lack of transparency?


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

For someone who doesn't do much for his constituents, Jefferson sure thinks he's important. Ward 1 has been under-served for years because of representatives like Jefferson and Richardson.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

Just what Ypsi needs, more access to marijuana..................

Cameron McLain

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 7 p.m.

Wow Mike, way to be ignorant. How about we let the couple hundred people this would help go buy their pot from the Green or West willow? Great idea, sir.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Mike, it's what the world needs, especially one of my daughters(4 back surgeries)!


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

It's what the entire nation needs.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 10:34 a.m.

Since when do prospective business owners need to meet with City Councils? Since City Council members are the ones who work for the public, and are the liaison between the residents and government, they should be the ones contacting Nemeth with any concerns. Seems like laziness on their parts.


Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

Since the birth of city councils.

Basic Bob

Thu, Aug 8, 2013 : 11:17 a.m.

Sounds like something one would be required to do in Detroit. Unofficially.