Saline Considers Curbside Pickup At Cannabis Establishments

Should the City of Saline allow cannabis customers curbside pickup in dispensary parking lots?

That’s the question city council will wrestle with when it meets again March 18.

Community Development Director Ben Harrington introduced the issue to the city council at Monday’s meeting. He said the city’s attorney has advised the city to adopt a clear standard for curbside pickup. To start the discussion, he offered two ordinances for the council to choose from. One would prohibit curbside pickup, and the other would allow it.

In his memo to council, Harrington said city staff has not found other cities that regulate curbside pickup In 2022, Ann Arbor clarified its ordinance to allow curbside pickup at marijuana dispensaries. After reviewing the issue with the city’s planning consultant, Harrington interpreted the city’s zoning code would permit curbside pickup in commercial districts as the city allows “drive-through facilities which are customarily incidental to the permitted principle uses and structures located on the same site.”

The issue seems generally clouded by attitudes specifically toward marijuana.

Ben Goodman, who generally opposed marijuana establishments when the city was considering them, advised the city to reject curbside pickup during public comment. Goodman said that when the city began considering cannabis businesses, the planning commission was clear that curbside pickup should be prohibited. He said he wasn’t sure why it was even a discussion. Goodman said that near Rush, on the west side, there were marginalized people in Section 8 homes, a school and a dance studio that teaches kids.

“It’s not safe. It’s a drug deal. I come from the east coast. Marijuana is a gateway drug. I’ve lost a lot of students to it. And now you’re opening another way for people to come pick it up,” Goodman said.

Shaun Mansour, owner of Rush Cannabis, explained that curbside pickup wouldn’t be much different than the kind of pickup orders currently served if allowed. Customers would place their orders online. But instead of going into the store, they’d park in a sport with a sign designating pick-ups. They’d call the number on the sign and tell the “budtender” or servicer they had arrived. The employee would take the order to the vehicle and check ID with a scanner.

Mansour said the purpose is convenience for the customer.

“Some people just don’t want to get out of their vehicle on a rainy or snowy day. The other reason is discreetness. Some people just don’t want to walk in the store and let everyone in the store know they’ve walked in. They may be from different professions and want to keep things discrete,” Mansour said. From our end, we just want to convenience the customer as much as possible.”

Council briefly discussed the issue after Harrington laid it out.

Councillor Dean Girbach asked if the city allows curbside pickup of liquor. Harrington said he wasn’t aware of anything prohibiting it but was not aware of such a situation in the city. He noted that big box stores in Ann Arbor/Pittsfield allow it.

Answering a question from Councillor Janet Dillon, Mansour said he anticipated perhaps 20 percent of customers would use curbside pickup.

Dillon asked if the new St. Andrew’s Catholic School that has opened would require the city to adjust the site plan. Harrington said it would not.

Councillor Nicole Rice said she thought council should hear from the community before making a decision as it weighs some residential concerns against business interests.

“I would like to hear from the community. We also need to do everything we can to support businesses,” Rice said.

In addition, she pointed out that the city was set to receive $120,000 in tax revenue from Saline’s two marijuana businesses.

Harrington noted the anticipated negative impacts some people associated with cannabis businesses have not materialized.

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