Detroit commission meets to talk regulation of pot shops

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Marijuana dispensaries took center stage at Detroit City Hall Thursday, in the battle over "bud."

Detroit's planning commission heard from residents about the best ways to regulate marijuana dispensaries in the city, which some say have grown out of control.

"I encourage you to get in your car and drive to one of these facilities and park and just watch who goes in," said resident Pam Winestine. "You're not going to see too many people using a walker or a wheelchair or a cane. Instead you're going to see lots of young people 18 to 25 years old who appear to be really happy, really healthy and really interested in getting high."

Detroit's planning commission met Thursday night to hash out zoning issues surrounding the city's growing industry.

"In District 1. the district that I represent, we did a visual count," said James Tate, city councilman. "At one point it was 16. That's when we really started this mission to try to figure out how to curtail this industry."

According to a report by local mapping company Loveland Technologies, there are 148 dispensaries operating within the city limits.

Police raided one of those businesses on Thursday, just days after the shop's manager was shot in a suspected drive-by.

Tate introduced a proposal that would limit hours of operation and means of distribution at the dispensaries. The proposal also restricts how close they can operate near schools, churches, and other dispensaries.

"It was important for me as we moved forward to ensure we do three things," Tate said. "Make sure the patients have safe access, make sure individuals who wanted the opportunity to provide  it to patients. We also wanted to make sure we could respond to concerns in the community."

The ordinance would stop a marijuana shop from operating within 1,000 feet of a school, park or church or 2,000 feet from another dispensary.  This map shows the dispensaries could only operate on the black colored parcels of land which are few and far between.

"Detroit is not the safest city in the world," said Greg, a suburban patient. "When I go to Detroit, I want to be on Eight Mile. The reason? Because it's patrolled, it's safer. I go to a place on Eight Mile and Livernois. You are telling me based on this map I am going to go to Linden and Livernois? It is not the safest neighborhood."

Earlier this week, city council approved an ordinance that sets strict licensing requirements on marijuana centers.

It requires:

Compliance with state laws and regulations

Existing medical marijuana shops would have to get a license or be shut down.

Operators would be subject to a police background check.

Drive-through service would be prohibited.

Earlier the zoning ordinance could be voted on later this fall. the licensing ordinance won't be published unless the zoning requirements are also approved.

"I do hope you are able to change the distance away from churches," said the owner of the Detroit Grass Station. "And also to allow us to have a waiver system so we can get a variance when you implement these ordinances."

Councilman George Cushingberry introduced some of his changes to loosed restrictions to lessen the burden on police.