The arrival of a medical marijuana dispensary in Saline is more a question of “when” than “if.”
Saline City Council briefly discussed the issue Monday night and a majority of council members signalled the city should end its prohibition of medical marijuana establishments.
Michigan voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 2008 but the city elected to disallow medical marijuana establishments in the city. City leaders’ attitudes toward medical marijuana seemed to change in 2018 when 57 percent of city voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana. The city council quickly voted to approve language preventing recreational marijuana businesses within the city, but, while being courted by a Detroit-area firm with plans to open a medical dispensary, struck a task force to study the issue.
Councillor Jack Ceo led the task force. He reported the group’s findings to council on Feb. 3. Ceo shared findings from a task force survey showing strong community support for medical marijuana. Of 489 people to take the survey, 337 supported or strongly supported local access to medical marijuana.
The task force recommended the issue be moved to the Code Review Task Force, which will consider how to regulate dispensaries. Ceo said he’d like to avoid the situation in Ann Arbor, where lines at the busy dispensaries sometimes spill out into the street.
At the Feb. 10 meeting, Ceo said he hoped the Code Review Task Force studied the issue so that medical marijuana dispensaries didn’t turn into a “wild, wild west situation.”
Mayor Brian Marl asked council to weigh in.
Councillor Jim Dell’Orco said he saw benefit in allowing dispensaries.
“We have very good scientific data on the benefits for patients who receive access to this type of treatment. It would be a disservice to the community to not have this service. So I support it,” Dell’Orco said.
Councillor Christen Mitchell, who served on the Medical Marijuana Task Force, offered “unequivocal support.” She said she would be interested in limiting the number of establishments in the city. Councillors Dean Girbach and Kevin Camero-Sulak also offered support for regulated dispensaries.
Councillor Janet Dillon offered her support for sending the matter to the Code Review Task Force but stopped short of issuing her support for dispensaries.
Mayor Brian Marl said that while he personally voted against the medical marijuana and recreational marijuana proposals during the statewide referendums, he believed it was time to listen to the voters of Saline.
With his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, he quoted former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
“The voters have spoken, and now they must be punished,” Marl said.
Marl cited community support in the task force survey, at a public forum and in the 2018 election for his support of medical marijuana dispensaries.
There have been many promises of revenue for cities who allow dispensaries. But, Ceo said at the Feb. 3 meeting, the only revenue the city could really count on was $5,000 for a license.
Councillor Janet Dillon asked city staff to provide estimates on what it will cost to regulate and police the dispensaries.