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Monday, March 7, 2016

VGIP UPDATE: March 2016 - by Ben Horner

     Detroit has passed its ordinance, and the City of Detroit is gearing up to close as many dispensaries as they can. All Dispensaries have until March 31st to start the licensing process. Some dispensaries that are close to schools have already been raided and shut down, after Mayor Mike Duggan announced that facilities that continue operating before getting approved by the City are doing so at their own risk.

     A referendum to overturn the Detroit Dispensary Ordinance just missed the deadline to turn signatures in, but are hoping that the city will extend the deadline and accept the over four-thousand signatures that were turned in. Jamie Lowell, Tim Beck, Greg Pawlowski and many of the stores worked on gathering the signatures for the referendum, but only had a limited amount of time. It looks like the City will be allowing some dispensaries to apply for 100% variances, so they don’t have to close. Many feel that this is another sign of corruption in the Motor City, and medical marijuana will be pay-to-play. City officials estimate only 50 or so dispensaries will make the cut. Last month there were over 200 stores in the city limits, and as of the beginning of the month almost half have filed an application.

     Lansing is considering a similar licensing ordinance. Although Virg Bernero supports the medical marijuana centers, others in Lansing feel as though there are too many already. Natures Alternative of Detroit has expanded into Lansing. Adam MacDonald, owner of Natures Alternative and president of the National Patients Rights Association (NPRA), was mentioned in the Detroit Free Press in September of last year, in support of closing down his competition saying:

     “Adam MacDonald of Grosse Pointe Farms, owner of the Nature’s Alternatives dispensary on Detroit’s east side, said he favors regulations to shutter unscrupulous operators while freeing responsible owners from the fear of police raids.”  

     Michigan Senate is fast tracking a bill, SB 776, which will prevent Jeff Hank, from MI Legalize, from being able to change the policy regarding the 180-day limit on state petitions. Signatures that are older than 180 days are considered “null and void.” Supporting the challenge is the Committee to Ban Fracking, who also came up short of the 240,000 signatures needed to make the ballot. Unfortunately this brought in the oil and gas industry to lobby for Senate Bill 776. What a shame that Lansing is not more open to making it easier for grassroots initiatives. On the other hand, do we really want to make it easier to build private bridges, prisons, casinos in the same fashion?

     Abrogate Michigan is hoping to pick up speed now that MI Legalize has passed their deadline, and has failed to come up with a contingency plan. You can find a copy of the Abrogate petition in the magazine. Readers can gather a dozen signatures and mail it in. This grassroots petition has no “cannabis leaders” and is the only realistic chance of making the 2016 ballot at this point according to petitioning experts.

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