Council approves first read of changes to medical marijuana ordinance

Move will open larger area of the city to possible facility

DAVISON — The city council approved the first reading of a change to the medical marijuana ordinance which would expand the district where a provisioning facility could be built from the northern city limits off M-15 to the downtown business district.

The council approved the first reading of the changes to the ordinance at its Monday regular meeting, by a vote of 5-2, with councilmen Chris Hinkley and Ron Emery being the only votes against the measure.

In September, Jim Joubran with High Society Wellness, was granted the city’s only medical marijuana license. At the time he was the sole applicant.

The city’s marijuana facility ordinance narrowed down the options of potential developers to one site – a parcel of city-owned property at 920 N. State Rd. in front of Continental Estates mobile home park.

But in January, Joubran came before the Medical Marijuana Licensing Committee and said developing the small parcel would be cost prohibitive and would be further complicated by Michigan Department of Transportation requirements for a driveway on the property out to M-15.

At the time, Joubran asked if property he owns on North State Road, where he tore down several homes about two years ago, would work instead of the city-owned property to the north.

The committee said it would require a change to the zoning requirements in the medical marijuana ordinance which were specifically written to make the 920 N. State Rd. property the only viable place to put a dispensary.

Those changes were what came before the council Monday night, allowing a medical marijuana dispensary in the commercial central business district, a c-1 zoning classification. That area would encompass all Main Street south to Rising Street and a small section between Third and Fourth streets on the westside of M-15 – where Joubran’s property is located.

The ordinance change had some opposition by those in attendance of the meeting and on the council.

“He gave us a different proposal. He didn’t like the deal offered,” said resident Stephanie Herner. “If he brings this into the city, we’re opening a can of worms. I’m concerned about the children.”

Another resident attending the meeting said the last thing she wanted to see was Davison becoming a “drug city.” She also claimed police would be “placed at risk” by what she said would be a criminal element.

Councilwoman Jessica Abraham dismissed suggestions children would be subjected to drugs or crime because of a medical marijuana dispensary.

“My son is 11, he walks past four liquor stores every day, he’s never walked into one. There are age regulations,” she said. “It’s also a false statement that police will suffer. Andrew Brisbo with LARA (Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs), we took these questions to him and he said it’s quite opposite. These facilities have security systems that are far better. There are no stats that said crime rose for those who allowed medical marijuana.”

Further, she said the people of Davison voted in the majority to legalize medical marijuana, based on poll numbers from that election, so approval of the ordinance was proper representation of the will of Davison voters.

Councilwoman Jaime Stebbins said allowing a dispensary downtown, or near downtown, would serve the apartment dwellers in that area who require medical marijuana care.

Councilman Ron Emery said there was concern by the sole applicant for the city’s only medical marijuana license and he found the location where the city wanted the dispensary placed to be too cost prohibitive, so in his opinion he failed to meet the requirements.

Emery said he did not like idea of expanding the district.

“The one thing I do not like on this amended ordinance is the planning commission’s removal of the distance of 700 feet from schools,” he said, saying the original area zoned for a medical marijuana facility was a good way to get rid of the property.

“It was going along fine until he didn’t want to spend the money to make that property work,” said Emery.

Councilman Chris Hinkley also said he was against changes to the ordinance because he against it being in the downtown business district and it still conflicts with federal law.”

The council will meet May 10 at 7:30 p.m. The second reading of the proposed ordinance changes will take place during that meeting.