ANN ARBOR, MI – Ann Arbor is agreeing to let 18 medical marijuana businesses in the city temporarily operate without licenses while they go through the process of seeking licenses from the state.
The City Council unanimously approved the measure this week, while finalizing new zoning regulations for marijuana businesses.
The city’s zoning regulations, which take effect Feb. 12, have been several months in the making.
“We’ve been working pretty hard on this for a while now,” said Council Member Chip Smith, D-5th Ward.
City officials say they welcome the marijuana dispensaries that have sprouted in recent years, noting they provide goods and services that are overwhelmingly supported by the local community.
But there’s no guarantee that all 18 marijuana businesses on the city’s list of existing facilities will get city permits to continue operating, even if they obtain state operating licenses.
Some have been in operation for years, while others are newer. They’re allowed to continue operating and serving patients while they go through the state’s new licensing process, but they also will have to separately comply with the city’s rules.
The only issue of debate at the council’s meeting Monday night, Dec. 18, was how close to one another marijuana dispensaries — also called provisioning centers — could be.
To avoid creating districts with clusters of dispensaries, the city previously considered a 1,000-foot minimum buffer distance between dispensaries before lowering it to 600 feet.
Council Member Zachary Ackerman, D-3rd Ward, advocated for increasing it to 800 feet Monday night, saying 600 feet would allow about one per block and some think that’s too dense.
Ackerman was outnumbered, as the council voted 7-4 to stay with the 600-foot spacing requirement.
The three others who supported Ackerman’s call for a larger buffer were Chuck Warpehoski, Jane Lumm and Sumi Kailasapathy.