Detroit has three casinos, 23 libraries, 107 parks, 115 grocery stores, and – wait for it – 180 medical marijuana dispensaries.
Medical marijuana dispensaries have so far escaped burdensome regulations in Detroit, but this relatively hands-off approach has led to concerns over new dispensaries uncontrollably sprouting up throughout Motor City, CBS Detroit reports.
“I’m for compassionate care but am also concerned about the over saturation of them,” Detroit City Councilman James Tate told CBS Detroit.
“These buildings, they have now just started popping up everywhere and because the state law is not clear on if they’re allowed or not, we take these businesses to court and they just get tied up and they just stay there. We have not won not one case, nothing has been shut down and that’s the reason why. Most of these businesses don’t have a permit, they have no licensing.”
A recent medical marijuana bill considered by the Michigan legislature died in December. The legislation would have expanded access to medical marijuana by allowing the use of different products like marijuana-infused products for people who have difficulty smoking.
While the bill obtained wide bipartisan support in the House, the Senate refused to let it through, leaving Detroit in an uncomfortable state. Patients still have to go through various regulations in order to register for medical marijuana, but dispensaries have mostly avoided regulation.
In fiscal year 2014, the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department for Michigan issued 119,000 medical marijuana cards, costing the state $5.8 million from a fund completely paid for by patient registration fees.
But because of the vagueness of the law, even if Detroit takes these businesses to court, the cases drag on and delay judicial proceedings. In short, nothing gets done. The city’s hands are tied. Until lawmakers pass a bill including provisions to handle dispensaries, the market will continue to expand and take the industry to the limits of consumer demand.
“We’ve got a lot of complaints about it but some of that is emotional because they just don’t like the issue. The other part of it is people are not educated on it,” Tate said. “It’s not about being against it. It’s about making sure that we’re able to regulate it in a way that ensures the best quality of life for the residents who live in that area.”
In the meantime, the lack of clarity surrounding medical marijuana in Michigan has led to some interesting scenarios. Near the end of December, police came to the aid of a medical marijuana grower when he called 9-11 after spotting spotted thieves breaking into his facility and attempting to make a gateway with a bag full of marijuana, according to Lansing State Journal. Officers descended on the scene and nabbed a 33-year-old man, a scenario which just a few years ago would have seemed unthinkable.
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