Terrence Mansour, left, is president of a group that wants to prevent the proliferation of unsafe “pot shops.” Shawn Fleming says he found pain relief from medical marijuana.(Photo: Jose Juarez / Special to The Detroit News)
Detroit — Medical marijuana dispensaries may not exist under current state laws, but that hasn’t stopped the unregulated operations from sprouting up at a concerning rate in the state’s largest city.
As the Michigan Legislature gears up for debate over new bills to legalize and set rules for the facilities, a city-based coalition is working on a plan that will ask Detroit to adopt some regulations of its own to combat what many say has become an oversaturation.
Community, block club and faith-based groups formally organized in January as the Metropolitan Detroit Community Action Coalition. Their goal is to draft a proposed ordinance to regulate how and where the dispensaries will operate in the 139-square-mile city.
They plan to present it to Detroit’s City Council and Mayor Mike Duggan in the coming weeks, said Winfred Blackmon, the coalition chairman.
“These stores are just popping up like dandelions all over the city of Detroit,” said Blackmon, adding the recommendations being carved out aim to limit the number of dispensaries and enforce a fair but strict zoning code.
“Until the city can get some regulations, this stuff is spreading like wildfire.”
The organized push for a local law comes as a legislative hearing is expected this month for a revived bill package introduced in Lansing to legalize and establish standards for the dispensaries or “provisioning centers” as well as sales of edible marijuana products.
A similar effort last year died out during the Legislature’s lame-duck session in December, following criticism from law enforcement and health groups.
State law OK’d in ’08
Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Act, which allows residents with debilitating medical conditions to legally use the drug, was approved by the state’s voters in 2008.
Those who rely on it say it can be a lifesaver.
Spine injuries resulting from a bout with meningitis and a serious car crash left Shawn Fleming with debilitating pain.
To cope, the 39-year-old St. Clair Shores resident was taking up to 780 pills per month among prescriptions for pain and inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers and antidepressants.
The treatment left him …Read More