Warren considers creating designated pot zones for dispensaries

The city of Warren is trying to figure out how they are going to handle medical marijuana.

- The city of Warren is trying to figure out how they are going to handle medical marijuana.

One of the ideas they are considering is whether or not to create a "pot zone" industrial areas specifically designed for growing, manufacturing, and selling marijuana.
But the city also has to make sure it does not infringe on people's rights.

"Have any of you had a loaded gun put to your head? I have," said one Warren resident. "It's not a good experience. I want this crap out of my neighborhood."

Fear of an increase in crime, is one of reasons some people want medical marijuana confined to one spot in the city.  Another is safety.

The warren fire commissioner talked about a September home explosion due to pot manufacturing.

"It blew the house off the foundation," said Skip McAdams, the Warren fire commissioner. "It threw the refrigerator door 30 feet into the backyard. The house is destroyed."

Whatever the reason. The majority of people who spoke at Warren City Council Tuesday are for medical marijuana - as long as it is not near them.

"A pawn shop is a perfect analogy," said resident Dan Kendall.  "I have no problem with a person buying something from one person and selling it to another. But I don't want a high cash business that is fraught with all kinds of legal difficulties and criminal activity. I don't want it done next to my house."

But accomplishing that goal could be a problem.  The state constitution says a marijuana caregiver grow 72 plants in their own house.

City leaders can't change that but they can offer competition and allow dispensaries to open up in industrial parts of the city.

"If you know you're going to want any marijuana, you know the place to go, that's number one," said Cecil St. Pierre, Warren City Council president. "The police know where it's going to be. The residents know to stay away."

Some home caregivers aren't on board however, and want to open their business where they see fit. And not be told where they can go.
"To try and force me into a commercial building, I can't afford a 10,000-foot commercial building," said Robert Muller, who grows 72 plants.

The city council says they know it’s only a matter of time before state law opens the flood gates when it comes to dispensaries. A package of bills on the subject swept through the state House and is being debated in the Senate.

Warren wants to make sure it has a plan in place when it comes to pot.

The hearing was a fact-finding mission wanting to hear from lawmakers, experts and the public. The council president says he expects some action in the next month.

The city stands to make some money; one lawmaker said that the city can make three percent per dispensary and $5,000 per license.

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