Some of the opposition to the proliferation of dispensaries in Detroit is from residents nearby.(Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)Buy Photo
Medical-marijuana shops (dispensaries) were declared illegal in 2013 by Michigan’s attorney general.
But scores of dispensaries still operate, including more than 50 in Detroit, city officials say.
A bill to legalize them statewide almost passed last year. Now, a councilman wants Detroit to act.
Inside a neat brick building on Detroit’s east side, a steady stream of customers stroll in to view, sniff and purchase something that not long ago would’ve landed them in jail — medical marijuana.
This is a dispensary, where concentrated marijuana sits in rows of shiny jars or is dissolved in tubes of vegetable oil for cooking, and where walls of bulletproof metal protect the inventory.
“There’s a lot of people relying on us for getting their medicine, so we are, honestly, petrified” about inviting police scrutiny, said owner Adam MacDonald, 40, of Grosse Pointe Farms, in explaining why he requested that the Free Press not name his store.
Still, as chairman of the National Patients Rights Association — a group of mostly Michigan dispensary owners, their lobbyists and lawyers — MacDonald said he’s given state lawmakers tours of his store on Mack Avenue, across from stately homes in Grosse Pointe Park.
“We’ve reached out to many people who were against this and turned them around,” he said.
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Some of the products at one of the Medical Marijuana Dispensaries on Detroit’s east side on Thursday, January 8.(Photo: Detroit Free Press)
One state official who hasn’t turned around is Attorney General Bill Schuette. In 2013, Schuette declared dispensaries to be illegal. Police raids soon triggered closures of an estimated 200 shops. Yet, hundreds of others stayed open in tolerant counties and communities, including scores of them in Detroit.
Now, Detroit could become a leader in the push to make dispensaries legal in Michigan. Earlier this month, Councilman James Tate called for the city to lobby Lansing for a bill to legalize dispensaries, estimated to be from 50 to 180 in Detroit alone. Many of his fellow council members have signed on.
And Gov. Rick Snyder might be ready to add his support. Snyder, a Republican, has been silent for years on marijuana, but spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said Wednesday that the governor’s office was working with …Read More