Marijuana Lawsuits in the City of Lapeer
LAPEER – The road to medical marijuana dispensaries within the City of Lapeer has seen its share of bumps, to say the least. Since opting in to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) in April of this year (2018), a series of snags has slowed the process down to a snail’s pace.
Applicants for six medical marijuana dispensary licenses have been reviewed on a merit-based system drafted by the city clerk’s office and legal counsel. Many dispensaries have taken serious issue with their scores, and now, yet another lawsuit has been filed against the City of Lapeer over the scoring of a dispensary, bringing the total number of formal complaints and/or lawsuits to six (6).
As it stands, Michigan has one of the largest medical marijuana programs in the nation – second only to California in terms of patient numbers. The state’s medical marijuana business is expected to generate $711 million in sales and $21 million in tax revenues. According to Forbes.com, Michigan’s program also received one of the highest grades from Americans for Safe Access.
That momentum and overwhelming support, however, doesn’t seem to have made its way into some of the smaller and right-leaning cities throughout the state, including Lapeer. Many local governments like Lapeer, which has a population of just less than 10,000, were less than eager to welcome marijuana-related businesses into their communities, citing a host of reasons. Many municipalities either voted to “opt-out” or did nothing, which, as of Dec. 15, 2017, was the same as “opting-out”.
Some communities accept medical marijuana use for compassionate reasons, including but not limited to terminal illnesses. And many believe that the new Facilities Licensing Act will better enable, or simplify, the spirit and actual practice of the patient-caregiver relationship. Other communities may be responding to a real demand or a broad majority support locally for providing medical marijuana facilities and business opportunities. And, perhaps most important to concerned municipalities, the introduction of cannabusinesses may represent a significant revenue source.
“Lapeer’s newest City Commissioner took it upon himself to limit the City of Lapeer to only six (6) medical marijuana dispensaries, with a major lack of foresight and periphery, inevitably costing Lapeer and its taxpayers unnecessary money,” said Lapeer-based attorney and marijuana activist Bernard Jocuns. “These businesses are thoroughly vetted through a state licensing process. People aren’t just throwing up a random shingle or a lemonade stand and trying to sell marijuana to just anybody. This is a serious and systemic, exhaustive process and the State of Michigan isn’t cutting corners. The city needs this revenue, and with the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol on the horizon, there’s no reason a municipality shouldn’t enjoy the benefits. This wouldn’t cost the citizens more taxes and will make the City of Lapeer much more inviting, spurring economic activity, revenue and jobs.”
Though dispensaries within the City of Lapeer will be limited to a half dozen, the Lapeer City Commission is not limiting the number of medical marijuana grow facilities that can locate in the city, nor are there restrictions placed on the number of processors, testing facilities or secure transporters that may operate in the city.
Lapeer City Manager Dale Kerbyson said that the three-person panel in charge of the assessments were selected based on their community standing and whether they are “above reproach.” The three individuals assessed, scored and ranked each of the 65 items on the merit application to receive a maximum point value of one. The highest overall total score is 65 points in the merit-based scoring system.
After 17 merit applications were reviewed and scored by the three-person panel from Massachusetts-based ICF Consulting, the City of Lapeer posted results of the parties that sought to obtain a marijuana dispensary licenses. Two applications were withdrawn after they were submitted. The six companies who were awarded medical marijuana dispensary licenses have been issued provisional licenses by the City of Lapeer and have one year to submit their business plans to the city, provided all other conditions under the city’s and State of Michigan’s statute and regulatory requirements are met.
The provisional license means only that the applicant has submitted a valid application for a marijuana facility license, that the proposed facility is located in a proper zoning district, that the proposed facility is not located in a required buffer zone and that the applicant will not locate or operate a marijuana facility without obtaining all other permits and approvals required.
The six provisional licenses were granted to the following parties:
- Alternative RX, LLC: 63 points — Located on a parcel of vacant land on Imlay City Road, the proposed name of the business is Alternative RX.
- DNVK Lapeer Inc.: 62 points (seeking to be Lapeer’s first legal medical marijuana dispensary) — The Pier Provisioning Center is proposed for 2401 W. Genesee in the Genesee Place plaza (across from Lapeer County Animal Control).
- SPMI LLC: 58 points — Submitted with a DBA (doing business as) name of Shango Premium Provisioning, this dispensary will be located at 224 E. Genesee between Subway and Hugo’s Pizza in the River Bend Center plaza.
- Pure Lapeer, LLC: 63 points — Under the same business name, this dispensary is proposed for 1330 Imlay City Road, next to Purified Water & Ice.
- Lapeer Infused Inc.: 60 points — To be located at 111 W. Genesee if approved by city planners, the business will go in what is now a small retail building between Hungry Dan’s restaurant and Thick’s Glass. Plans are to renovate the approximate 1,850-squarefoot building that now contains a cellular phone retailer and phone repair shop.
- TRC Lapeer LLC: 58 points — The ReLeaf Center of Lapeer is proposed for 200 E. Genesee Street.