Saline Approves Curbside Pickup for Marijuana Businesses By 5-2 Vote


Consumers who buy from Saline’s marijuana dispensaries will have the option of purchasing their products without leaving their vehicles.

Saline City Council voted 5-2 in favor of a new ordinance regulating curbside pickup of products from Saline’s marijuana dispensaries. Councillors Dean Girbach and Janet Dillon voted against the ordinance. Mayor Brian Marl and Councillors Chuck Lesch, Jack Ceo, Nicole Rice and Jen Harmount voted in favor. The motion to approve the ordinance was made by Rice and seconded by Harmount.

Ben Harrington, the city’s economic development director, said the city was not allowing curbside pickup via site plan conditions until council weighed in on the issue.

Councillor Dillon said she was very uncomfortable with cash transactions happening outside the business. Dillon said it was a safey issue, noting that marijuana businesses use armed guards to escort the budtender to deliver product to a vehicle awaiting curbside service.

“We don’t go to Busch’s to pick up our groceries and have an armed guard. We don’t go to CVS to pick up our prescriptions and have an armed guard. So if they’re recognizing thhjere could be an issue by having an armed guard present, it’s something maybe we should be taking into consideration,” Dillon said.

Councillor Rice dismissed the concern, noting that the armed guards are there at the behest of people concerned about safety.

“I don’t think we can have it both ways because we’ve said that we are concerned about security and so they addressed it by having a security guard walk out. And now we’re saying that having a security guard walk out gives the perception that it’s more dangerous,” Rice said. “So, I think we need to listen to the business owners and their experience.”

Rice said the owners of Rush, located on the city’s west side, have another store in Hazel Park without safety issues related to curbside pickup.

“I’m leaning on the business owner here and what they think is the best to improve business, and I’m not looking at the perception of safety and whatnot,” Rice said.

The ordinance allows dispensaries to reserve up to five parking spaces for curbside pickup. This raises another issue because dispensaries have different parking environments. Rush is a standalone business with its own parking lot. High Society, located in the plaza with Dollar General and Stony Lake Brewing, shares its lot with other businesses. A third dispensary is planned in the small westside shopping plaza, including Dance Alliance and a party store.

“So you’re mingling different types of business there in the parking lot and I really want to be thoughtful in what we are doing - in what is going to be transacting in the parking lot as we have young children walking through going to their dance classes,” Dillon said.

Girbach said he wondered what controls the city would have on the spaces used for pickup. He noted one of the dispensaries has a very large parking lot where they might want the spaces closer to Michigan Avenue than to the actual dispensary.

Harrington said the city would be able to keep the reserved pickup spaces close to the marijuana business or further from places where they don't belong, like in front of the dance studio.

Harrington said he could not find evidence of public safety issues associated with curbside pickup. Similarly, he couldn’t find evidence that curbside parking leads to traffic issues. He also said he couldn’t find other communities who decided to prohibit curbside pickup.

Dillon noted that when he decided to allow marijuana businesses, city officials said they would not allow curbside pickup. Girbach said he wasn’t swayed by the argument that other communities allow it.

“We bright this issue up as one of the things of community concern. Maybe every other community does something different. We are Saline and based on the law from the state, we can make our own conditions,” Girbach said. “I just have concerns with the cash transactions.”

Marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government. When the businesses emerged, it was thought that banks would not extend financial services to marijuana businesses, however some are using some form of card services.

During public comment, west side resident Ben Goodman urged council to vote against curbside pickup. He said he’s seen marijuana ruin the potential of student-athletes and noted that marijuana leads to other drugs. He pointed to the dance school and the Catholic School on the west side.

“It doesn’t send the right message to the community. There are certain things you don’t allow,” he said.

At a previous meeting Rush owner Shaun Mansour said curbside pickup is a matter of convenience. People could order online, drive to the dispensary, park in a clearly marked spot, and call the number (on the sign) for the order. The "budtender" and security guard would walk out to the vehicle, deliver the product to the customer and take payment.

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