“At Your Own Risk” Warning From Detroit to Dispensaries
08 Feb, 2016
photo caption: Hundreds of buildings like this have been rehabilitated by Detroit medical marijuana dispensaries over the last six years; City Council is preparing to shut nearly all of them down, returning buildings to blight
by Rick Thompson/February 8, 2016
DETROIT– The Compassion Chronicles told you that 211 Detroit medical marijuana facilities have been put on notice by the city’s Law Department that they are subject to police action for their continued operation after March 31. The notice came in a letter addressed by attorney Melvin ‘Butch’ Hollowell of Detroit’s Corporation Counsel; we have finally obtained a copy of that letter (see attached images below).
Hollowell does not mince words in the letter.
“I am writing to you to give you advisory notice that this location has been identified as conducting business activities pertaining to medical marihuana in a commercial building,” the letter begins.
After outlining the procedures and policies regarding medical marijuana distribution facilities, Hollowell get straight to the threatening.
“Commercial locations conducting medical marihuana activities that are located in a “Drug Free Zone” will not be permitted.” (emphasis included in original document)
“Continued operation of commercial locations conducting medical marihuana activities… without required City of Detroit approvals for licensing and zoning is “at your own risk.”” (emphasis and italics included in the original document)
Hollowell outlines the penalties distribution centers face from the city if the described activities are not halted. They include “civil and criminal penalties, including ticketing, fines, confiscation of illegal marihuana and paraphernalia, arrest or closure order.” (emphasis and italics included in the original document)
Hollowell states the ordinances will be enforced by officers of the Detroit Police Department and members of the building safety division of Detroit city government.
The letters were referenced in a PowerPoint presentation presented by Hollowell, DPD officials and others during a City Council session last week. During that session, Council President Brenda Jones called for all the nonconforming facilities to be shut down with extreme prejudice, comparing their operation to “drunk drivers” who should all be removed from the motorways.
Her tirade was sparked by Hollowell describing the decision to allow or ban medical marijuana distribution centers on a “case-by-case basis”. Council President Pro Tempore, George Cushingberry, has consistently advocated for common-sense guidelines for medical marijuana distribution in the city, calling for rules that mirror restrictions applied to other businesses.
City Council’s ordinance imposes a first-ever 1,000 foot buffer zone from any recognized church or religious institution in the city, a move that prompted many area attorneys to threaten lawsuit based on separation of church and state, should any facility be denied operation for this reason.
Zoning expert and former Royal Oak City Commissioner, attorney Jim Rasor, took to social media to express his belief that some marijuana distribution center in Detroit are a “grandfathered pre-existing use.” Another attorney from suburban Royal Oak, David Rudoi, is prepared to challenge the new ordinance on several fronts.
The clock is ticking, and March 31 may not be the ultimate deadline for some of the city’s currently operating dispensaries. Some facilities have been raided by DPD in advance of the ordinance. Any facility operating within 1,000 feet of a K-12 primary school is in violation of a federal drug-free school zone, which could trigger action by authorities before the ordinance-imposed deadlines.