Dozens speak out on Lansing marijuana proposal

More than 50 people showed up at a public hearing Thursday night to put their thumbprint on Lansing’s emerging medical marijuana economy.  At a meeting of the city’s Public Safety Committee in Foster Community Center, some wanted to limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. Others wanted to widen proposed operating hours.  Still others wanted the city to clamp down on what they claim is illegal activity at some shops. Lansing is one of many mid-Michigan communities that began to regulate dispensaries last year following approval of a statewide ballot measure legalizing medical marijuana in 2008.  “I think we opened up a Pandora’s box, and we don’t know how to shut it,” said Gary Casteel, a Lansing resident who says he is alarmed that 48 dispensaries operate in Lansing.

Under a proposed ordinance, medical marijuana businesses would be allowed in commercial and industrial zones, and they also would have to stay 1,000 feet from schools, churches, child centers and other marijuana businesses.  In some cases, city officials said dispensaries would have to be grandfathered in order for them to operate.  Robert Castillo, an employee of the TNT dispensary on East Michigan Avenue, said the proposed hours of operation for dispensaries – 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. – would make it difficult for his store to serve patients.

TNT now is open 24 hours a day.  Joan Nelson, director of the Allen Neighborhood Center, said she has spoken with several faith-based organizations and some said they wished to cap the number of dispensaries in Lansing. Nelson said she recently learned there are only 25 such dispensaries in San Francisco, a city of 750,000; she suggested a cap of 10 dispensaries for Lansing.  Melissa Quon-Huber, president of the Averill Woods Neighborhood Association, said she is concerned Lansing is adopting more lenient regulations for medical marijuana than many other communities in the region. She said that means many dispensaries will gravitate to Lansing.  “We could potentially be the area that serves all of mid-Michigan,” she said. “It’s important that we get this right.”

via  : Lansing State Journal

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